When the Muse vanishes – thoughts on the loss of creativity

Image from www.layoutsparks.com

Image from www.layoutsparks.com

“Creativity is our true nature; blocks are an unnatural thwarting of a process at once as normal and as miraculous as the blossoming of a flower at the end of a slender green stem.”
~ Julia Cameron 

If you’ve ever had some sort of creative block, where the juices stop flowing and the ideas dry up, then you’ll probably just find the quote above to be irritating, maddening and mocking.

Yes, we are all supposed to be creative.  Yes, creativity is meant to be our natural state.  But what happens when it’s not?  What’s wrong with us?  Why can’t we be creative like everybody else, or like we used to be?

juicingI actually believe that creativity is a little like a bicycle-powered juicer. You have to start pedalling BEFORE there can be enough power for the juice to be extracted. It’s the same with creativity – once you have some momentum up you’ll find yourself in flow, even if you weren’t there to start with.

But…

Sometimes we can’t even get on the darn bike.

Before you start gnashing your teeth, and muttering self-loathing thoughts, or committing to epic self-evaluation or a psychiatrist’s couch, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Has sleep been an issue lately?
  • Is there something on your mind?
  • Are you unwell?
  • Suffering from anxiety and/or depression?
  • Is there a situation that threatens your financial security?
  • Is there a situation that threatens your emotional well-being?
  • Are you stressed to the max, with too much on your plate?
  • Are you raising very small and demanding children (or bigger children who are going through ‘stuff’)?
  • Is there a safe and amenable place for you to practice your particular brand of creativity?
  • Have you already created something big recently?
  • Are you being creative and productive in another area as part of your work life?
  • Are you suffering from burn-out in ANY area of your life?

Sometimes we are simply just too tired, too sick, too worried, too stressed, too overwhelmed or too broken to be in a productive and creative space.

And that’s okay.

The biggest gift you can give yourself creatively when you’re in this place is time to rest and heal, and time to attend to the things that are sucking up all of your energy and head space.  Get that thesis finished.  Get that tax out of the way, or the divorce, or the bathroom finally renovated enough that you can shower and brush your teeth instead of standing outside with the garden hose.

There is a difference between ‘not feeling in the mood to create’ and being wrung out, battered, bruised and exhausted by life. Sometimes we need to rest and fill up the well before we can begin again.

Activity:

Think about what you want to create or the vision you have, or did have for a creative project.  (If you can’t even THINK of a project, then go with the desire to create rather than naming an actual project.)

Now tune in to your emotions. One a scale of one to ten how is your energy towards this project right now?

pain-scale

At 0 we are excited, motivated, happy and raring to go. We are emotionally engaged and enthusiastic about our project, and we are already sitting down and getting on with it. In fact, in the moments where we are not working on our project we find ourselves thinking about it, planning for it and wanting to get back to it.

At 10 we can’t even think of a project – it’s just a big black sucking hole, or a misty grey fog, or some other equally miserable and barren wasteland. We are flat out breathing and coping with life and that takes ALL of our energy.

What to do about it!

Strangely, one of the best medicines for a lack of creativity is creative exposure. Take some time this week to sit down with your journal and write a list of creative pursuits and activities that you have a flicker of interest for, but that are NOT your life passion.

For example, if you want to write the Next Great Novel, steer clear of anything to do with writing.  If you want to be the next prima ballerina, avoid anything to do with ballet. If you want to be a chef, stay away from food.  Are you getting the picture here?

Instead think of other cultural, artistic and creative pursuits.  Could you take up beading, chainsaw ice sculpting, macrame pot holders, hair braiding, decoupage, dancing the tango, painting some old chairs, making your own sourdough (no chefs – you guys go learn to make and fly your own kites!) etc. Do something that sounds interesting but where you don’t care whether you set the world on fire with your macrame skills or ability to compost garden scraps.

Image from www.acupfullofsunshine.blogspot.com

Image from www.acupfullofsunshine.blogspot.com.au

Make a list of music you’d like to listen to, bands you’d like to see, DVDs you’d like to watch, books to read, movies and theatre to see, galleries and cafes and markets and other places it would be interesting to visit. Think about painting those chairs on the back deck, or making a meal with a Moroccan Tagine.  Just because it’s fun.  Just because you can.

Over the next little while, dip into your list.  Don’t expect the Muse to turn up.  You don’t need her right now.  You just need some restorative time, some time with no pressure, no deadlines and no expectations.

That’s truly the meaning of Art as Therapy.  We do something a little creative and it restores a lost or damaged part of us to ourselves, so that we become fuller, more rounded, more whole.

Image by www.smashingchintz.co.uk

Image by www.smashingchintz.co.uk

This post is part of my 2013 Creative Challenge Project.  If you’d like to read more, visit these posts:

Join my 2013 Creative Project Challenge

Creative Project Challenge – February Check In

Lost your Creative Mojo?

Writing Your Way to Better Health

It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Your Body has its own wisdom; it knows what it needs to heal itself and be well, it knows what it needs to be energised, it knows what it needs to come back into balance. Your Soul knows what your ideal physical body feels like, looks like, moves like. Your Mind knows what it needs to feel calm, centred and balanced, happy.

Writing has great power. Today’s journalling exercise is all about using the power of words and visualisation to manifest better health and to help understand and create your ideal body.

Journal Activity

Over the next week use the following journal starters and write as much or as little as feels right for you.  Begin by transcribing these words (the ones in coloured ink) into your journal. Then choose a journal starter that resonates for you and let the words flow.  You can use the same journal starter more than once if it really resonates.

Dear Soul-Body, Heart-Body and Mind-Body, 

There are things in my life that I would appreciate some help or guidance with right now. I know some of these can be quickly sorted, and some may take more time. I am open to the wisdom you need to share with me, I am open to however this works.


  • I know that the best time of day for me is
  • My body really enjoys
  • The sort of food that revitalises me includes
  • The thing that will most improve my mental health and wellbeing right now is
  • The thing that will most improve my physical health and wellbeing right now is
  • The thing that will most improve my emotional health and wellbeing right now is
  • I am now willing to release my addiction to
  • I would love to attract into my life a person who could
  • Exercise that suits my current body is
  • One way I can treat my body better is to
  • One way I can give myself some mental relief is to
  • A thing I used to do that always made me feel good is
  • If I had more energy I would be able to
  • If I felt better about my physical appearance I could
  • One way to nurture my body today is
  • Some of the things I need to cut down on are
  • Some of the things I need to include more of are
  • One of my favourite ways to move my body is
  • One thing I’d forgotten about that always improves my health is
  • My ideal body would look like
  • My ideal mental state would be
  • My ideal emotional and soul state would be
  • The most important thing I need to pay attention to right now is

Inner Child Work:

Image from writemath.com

Often we think that the best way to find guidance is to look to someone older and more experienced, or a Guide, Angel, God or our Higher selves.

There is however, a wonderful source of Guidance within you, known as your Inner Child.  This is the refreshingly honest, loving and very caring part of you who can tell you with all the affront and careful attention of a five year old, what’s really going on in other parts of you.

The best way to work with your Inner Child directly is to have a conversation between the Big you, and the Little you.  You can do this through what is known as Left Hand – Right Hand Dialogue.  It’s an easy thing to do!  Simply find some different coloured pens or pencils.  Use your dominant hand (the one you usually write with) to be the Big you, the conscious awareness of you as an adult.  Choose one pen for this hand.  Then use your non-dominant hand to represent your Little you, and let that hand pick a pen, or pens to write with.

Have your Big You write a question for your Little You, and then let your Little you respond.  The writing will be awkward, and don’t worry about spelling or vocabulary.  What you’ll get is honesty, and love, and isn’t that all we really ever need to get started?  You can do this to work on health problems and blockages in your life, and you can even get your Little you to draw and create works of art.  Enjoy experimenting!

Art Journal Activity – Inner Child Drawing

Using coloured crayons or pens, have your inner child do a drawing of you with your non-dominant hand.  Feel free to also use other materials and collaged images as well as words.

Collage of self portraits from healingsense.org

Now use a left hand, right hand dialogue as described above, to ask your Little You questions about what the drawing represents, and any advice they have to give concerning this.  Be prepared for some surprises!  This is a great technique for working with health and diet, and other aspects of wellbeing.  And may bring to the surface things you’d never even thought of!

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

The following video contains some useful affirmations for health and well-being, and can also be used as a meditative practice.  Be well! Love and Honour yourself this week. ♥