Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Feed the Muse
I’ve been having a good run lately. Work, work, work. Time alone to think and no traumas on the front burner.
When work is going smoothly, I cook. My family eats really well when I’m writing happily. Mushroom risotto with sautéed spinach. Baked chicken with olives and artichokes, with a quinoa feta salad. Chocolate chip banana bread.
Conversely, if the writing blows—your choices are frozen pizza or hard boiled eggs and baby carrots out of the bag for dinner?
The longer I write, the more aware I am of the connection between my inner world and the outer world—aka “reality.” The two worlds definitely relate to each other. In both lift and drag.
When the work stalls, sometimes I look up and realize I haven’t been out of my office in hours, days, weeks. My sister has been known to call and ask: “Have you eaten today?”
“Uhhhh. I think so?”
Eric Maisel, author of “Creativity for Life” says that creative mania is similar to other forms of mania, only not necessarily cause for institutionalization. (Yay.) Creative mania is a positive form of mania. It definitely makes life exciting.
And like other kinds of mania, it’s usually followed by a rest period. Low energy, fallow time. The creative winter. Hard boiled eggs and carrots, anyone?
I used to fight that shift. Lots of wailing and nashing of teeth. Can’t say I exactly embrace it now, but I do have the sense it’s all part of the package.
These days, I’ve developed a few tricks to feed my spirit when I’m in the creative winter:
1. Rest. Sleep is the first medicine. Try some crazy all day napping. Vacation hours. You only need one day. Pretend it’s olden times, when Sunday was a day of rest.
2. Go outside. Be reminded of the physical world. You can’t write about the world unless you feel it on your skin and in your bones now and then.
3. Clean your desk. Make room for a new idea by clearing up what’s around you physically. Dust. Vacuum. Take a loofa to the desk and slough off the old.
4. Read. Words follow words. When you’re stumped, go hang out in the library for a while and see if that doesn’t get the juices flowing.
5. Sweat. Okay, this is one of my least favorite options, when it involves going to the gym. But I think we can all think of sweaty non-gym related activities as well. Dwell on that thought for a moment…Ahhh. Nice.
Now, I’m off to cook. Ravioli and grilled asparagus? Or polenta and meatballs?
Next week, we may be eating oatmeal and Raman. It's not all quite as tasty, but it’s all good.