Sometimes the ideas, inspiration and words flow easily and effortlessly. Other times you couldn’t connect with that place of inspiration for all the tea in China. At those moments, you feel like exclaiming, “Dang! Where did that creative flow go?” or “Lord, where are you?”
I think anyone who has ever tried to create anything has wondered, “What’s wrong with me?” Why was I able to do this before, but I can’t anymore? Why do I feel so uninspired?
I know I’ve asked myself plenty of times: What if I can never write another novel? What if that was it, and it’s gone? Or I’ve had times when inspiration flows freely from heaven and then other times I feel like I’m left to grope in the dark by myself. I strain heavenward to catch even a crumb of inspiration. Neither state happens because I’m being particularly “good” or particularly “bad.”
Many entrepreneurs and creative people have experienced a euphoric state where everything’s flowing. Ideas seem to rain down from heaven. Authors experience this as if they are tuned into some broadcast channel and what they’re writing isn’t coming from them but through them. It’s exhilarating!
Unfortunately, along with this, there are also times when you wonder whether you can ever write another word. Perhaps it was only a miracle you could the last time. In fact, many creative people are prone to depression, guilt and self-doubts when their creativity feels “off.” I believe it is because they do not understand what is happening to them.
Because they don’t realize there is a predictable pattern to creativity, they begin to doubt themselves. Perhaps they even let guilt and depression set in. Let me give you an example.
A friend called me in a tearful state. She was slaving dawn until dusk on a book that she’d been working on for several years. Coming down to the end of the project, she’d reached the final editing stage. She was feeling anything but creative. No matter what she did, she couldn’t muster any creative flow to give her book the glorious zing she felt it was missing. What happened? Where did all that free-flowing inspiration go? Will it ever come back again? “Maybe I have ADD,” she suggested.
There are two things happening to my friend in this situation. First, as anyone who has ever written a book knows, when you get to the end of the editing phase, you’re so sick of it you could sling it across the room and stomp on it. It’s garbage to you at that point and surely no one would ever want to read it. It doesn’t matter how inspired it once looked to you or how great other people say it is, it’s drivel to you now. Second, she’s not in a state of flow creatively. She’s in a different phase of The Creative Cycle.
After talking with me for about 30 minutes, she knew exactly where she was in the creative process and her anxiety melted away like a boiling pot taken off the stove. Why? Because knowing where you are in the creative process can save you days of anxiety. I was able to assure her that….
- No, you do not have ADD.
- No, you are not clinically depressed.
- Yes, you will be able to create again.
There is hope shining brightly on the horizon. Just knowing this process can help you identify where you are in it and know that all will be well once again. So, without further adieu, let’s talk about the phases of the creative process.
1) Flow – this is when all the ideas are coming. Inspiration is at its height. It’s as if you’re a conduit for light and truth. You’re also in a time warp, able to accomplish an amazing amount in little time.
2) Chaos – being so wrapped up in the creative phase, your house, relationships and maybe even other aspects of your business have fallen into disarray.
3) Recuperation – if the state of flow was particularly intense, you’ll need a rest. Sorry, no one can be an Energizer Bunny forever! I have a friend who crashes on her couch for days after an intense creative period.
4) Organization – now that you’ve got your energy back, you’ll need to organize your world that fell apart during the creative phase. In other words, bring order to chaos. It wouldn’t hurt to organize those ideas you came up with in the flow state!
5) Productivity – here’s where you can get a lot done. It’s not intensely creative, but it’s the grunt-work that needs to be done, and you’re actually in the mood to do it. This is where my friend was. She was editing her book – it takes work, but it’s not necessarily highly creative work. Eventually, you start to feel like a rat on a wheel in this phase and you long for the creative phase again, like my friend longed for inspiration on her book.
6) Rest – After an intense period of productivity, you will need some time to rest. If you don’t take it yourself, your body may demand it. Many people get sick when they do not take their much-needed rest! If you’ve completed the project you started, this rest phase is also accompanied by joy of accomplishment.
7) Flow – And then you’re back to flow. Hopefully you can remember what you worked on in your last flow state and build on it instead of starting a new project and not completing it either!
All inspiration does not shut off in the organizational and productive phases. It just isn’t free flowing. I’ve heard it said that God is like a woman – He wants to be pursued! There is no pursuit in the Flow state; it’s raining down like manna from heaven. Reach out, touch it, it’s there. God has drawn near to you. Take advantage of it! In the other phases you must hunger, thirst and reach for His insights and inspiration. You must pursue Him!
So, where are you in this cycle? Knowing where you are can help you take advantage of it. For example, if you’re feeling the urge, to organize, do it! You’ll be happy you did! Enjoy where you are with things and don’t fight the cycle. Trust it!
© Copyright 2010 Marnie L Pehrson