Some weeks creative work is more drudge than drama. More rut than inspiration.
While grunt work is always going to be part of the creative process, sometimes we need to change things up.
There are weeks when I’m super-productive in the sense that I tick off everything on my to do list. While there’s a certain virtuous feeling at the end of them, oddly these weeks don’t feel very satisfying - segwaying as they do, into the next week, and another round of to do’s.
But occasionally I have a week where my inner rebel refuses to follow the plan.
What’s interesting about these weeks is that I generally feel ful-filled at the end of them. Full and filled. I’ve filled the creative well.
I’ve probably taken in more than I’ve sent out into the world.
I’ve often tied up a lot of lose ends that have secretly been bugging me, but no amount of adding them to a list ever seemed to get them done.
I’ve followed hunches and scratched itches that at some point will create the basis of new work.
“We mistake leisure for idleness, and work for creativity.”
At first glance my behaviour might look like some kind of crazed procrastination. It’s not linear, orderly or ‘productive’ in the classic to-do list sense, but on some strange level, it needs to be done.
Perhaps you could think of it as an antidote.
Or a balancing act.
At heart I’m quite a rebellious sort of person. I have a natural aversion to routine.
But I know that routine is good for me in the most part. It’s mental muscle-memory that takes the decision-making out of getting things done. It gets my blogposts posted on a Sunday and my newsletters out quarterly. It has my butt in my art chair at the same time most days advancing my current project forward.
Routine has an honoured place in my life but part of me also finds it sacred to periodically break it.
“Coined by Zhuangzhi, Mukayu means ‘non-existence’ or ‘non-purpose,’ the freedom of emptiness. Mukayu is the purposefulness of not doing. It’s the richness of a wall left blank, a thought allowed to dissolve, a life left entirely open. It is the fullness of an empty schedule and a cup anticipating finely steeped tea. It is the act of witnessing amongst the tumult.”
In routine-breaking times, I ride bare-back on the Muse. I allow the beauty of nature to sweep me away in a frenzy of photo-taking. Or I drown myself in deep dreams that leave my mind clear and fresh as sparkling mountain dew.
On these dazzling days, I throw up the puzzle pieces of my life and let them fall down anew. Awed at the way familiar patterns form with a different twist; how unfathomable puzzles suddenly clarify before my eyes.
So when you wake up one day and your creative routine feels...well...just not creative. Maybe it’s time to sacredly break it for a little while.
To go out and dance with the Muse.
“Certainly work is not always required of a man. There is such a thing as a sacred idleness, the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected.”
More like this?
Read: Why you need to infuse your creative practice with Joy.
and get your FREE Creative Joy Worksheet