Surfing the Creative Doldrums

A couple of days ago I hit a low point. Too low to write a blog. And a good thing too – it would have been no fun to read. And so, instead of burdening my readers with unassimilated angst and rampant inertia, I headed straight for my journal, my favourite safe haven, and wrote the following:

“I have a ‘should’ about moving forward with my creative work today. I don’t want to. I don’t want to do anything today except read, eat, stare out the window, make some phone calls. I don’t want to market my writing services, I don’t want to work on my book on deconstructing spiritual communities. I don’t want to move forward on my plan to make May a month of creative celebration. I do not feel inspired – at all. I feel absolutely unmotivated. I can see kitesurfers from my living room window. Perfect wind conditions. Gorgeous sunny day. It must be heavenly out there in that rollicking indigo ocean. Did they have to drag themselves out of bed, force themselves onto the highway in their Acura MDX with board strapped to the roof, fight their way into their slightly damp and clingy wet suit? Not likely. In the mood I’m in today, I would have rolled over.”

I know this state well enough to recognize it as the creative doldrums, a transitional state that happens after a time of intense busyness and focus. Once the big project is done, then what? The adrenalin is still high from the big push and with nowhere to apply it, panic sets in and the mind goes into overdrive. What if I never work again? What if I’ve got writer’s block? What if I should have gone to library school? One idiotic thought follows another.

I took three deep breaths. Then I took seven more. With sanity returning, I watched the kitesurfers soaring and looping and sailing through the air. Like them, I let go of everything – the to do list, the expectations, the shoulds – everything except the experience of being alive. Like them, I allowed myself to be carried beyond my fear. Like them, I opened up an ocean of possibility.

After a day or so of no obligations and absolute freedom to do whatever brought me joy, I was getting up with the seagulls to work on my book for a couple of hours before the beginning of my work day, I was planning my May of creative celebration. I was riding the wave.

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