Creative Flow, Self Care, and Listening to my Inner Creative Voice

You ever feel like your creativity has gone on strike? I have. For a while things were a mess. My creativity was coming in waves, and some times I was peaking, and other times I was crashing. Speaking of crashing, after burning the candle at both ends, for way too long, especially last year, I finally took some time for me, for self care, and had a bit of a stay-cation, and then a bit of a vacation. I needed it.

The stay-cation and vacation were in January. Now it’s February, the month of love. For me, February is also the month of Self-Love/Self-Care. Since last year, which was the year from hell for many of us, I’ve been slowly but surely finding my creative flow. It has been a lot of trial and error, but I’ve tried to keep an open mind and let things grow organically, while at the same time trying to manage my creative life (the work parts). It’s not easy, and it’s definitely a work in progress, but I’m getting there. And here’s how that process has been unfolding…

Towards the end of last year, my mom and son finally decided to move in with us. To make a long story short, my mom’s house is falling apart, literally. It had become dangerous for her to live there. Once they moved in, we became overrun with their boxes, crates, bags. We have a small house. It’s around 1100sqft, which meant we had to move things from the guest room, I had to get my studio packed up–but where to put it. We decided to convert a barn shed into a barn studio. (Videos are here.) We then became inundated with tools, barn supplies, and barn and house DIY projects. The barn studio and house weren’t the only things were/are working on, but they were top priorities. The barn studio was such a big project, and a creative one, it took up a tremendous amount of my headspace, and creativity and energy, but it helped me get back some of my creative flow. (I’ll do a post on the barn studio soon.) It also has taken a lot longer than anticipated.

Once I was officially in the barn study, I started trying to cultivate a routine. It was hard. I was burning the candle at both ends trying to unpack, organize, and setup things in the barn studio, as well as create videos, while at the same time moving my stuff out of the closet in the guest bedroom into our master bedroom’s closet, which happens to be half the size of the other two bedroom closets (David and I are sharing said small closet.) It was rough for all of us for a while, but we got through it. We’re still working on both the barn studio and the house, but we’ve come a long way.

Cultivating my creative practice really has been a great deal of trial and error. Lots of happy little accidents that really helped me practice mindfulness and positivity, not to mention it really improved my DIY skills. Between my creative projects, like the barn studio conversion, and my planning system, and journaling, I have learned a lot about how my creativity ebbs and flows, as well as what inspires me. Really inspires me. Pinterest and YouTube were huge helps for the barn conversion.

I’ve also learned what has and hasn’t worked for me. Self-doubt, fear, comparison, and FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) have been triggers that have influenced me in negative ways, and yet I learned so very much from going through those things that I feel grateful. And it’s not like I’ve exorcised them, I still go through bouts of self-doubt at times, still hear that little nagging negative voice of comparison, still feel FOMO here and there–but I’ve learned to write those things down in my journal so I can figure out the root cause. Sometimes I’m able to turn the negative self talk into a positive.

After I’ve written down the negative speak or the self-doubts, like “this spread is horrible,” or “this video makes no sense,” or “what are you even doing on YouTube, much less Patreon?,” or the “oh, but if I had that Folio, or that notebook, or that fountain pen, or that palette…I bet my journal pages would be prettier, or my video would be better, or my art would be….” No! I take the time to journal about my feelings and thoughts on whatever it is that’s got me in the trenches, whether it’s self-doubt, comparison, or FOMO or whatever else. Half the time, whatever it is that I see that I think I might want because someone else is using it, it’s more about how they’re using it that I am attracted to, not the item itself. Other times, it’s the item itself and then I look around my stash to see if I already have something similar. And half the time I’m in a bit of imposter syndrome, or the negative self talk it’s really more of a case of anxiety, overwhelm, or just plain ole’ self doubt rearing its ugly head.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret trying some things, some of the things work, and those things that didn’t work–I learned more about what doesn’t work, as well as what does work, and why it works for me. However, the more I’ve let things grow organically, especially with my journaling and planning, the more I find myself feeling creative, inspired, free–and the more my creative flow actually flows. That has to do with being flexible. The more flexible I am, the more I leave the door open to creativity, the more things flow authentically. The more my planning system works for me. The more my journal pages flow.

Part of my self-care is making art. Creating art, in some way, is a tool that helps me destress. It lessens my anxiety. Helps me think, heal, grieve, and listen to my inner voice. There’s something really soothing about getting into the zone when I’m creating art, whether it’s watercoloring, drawing, or doodling. Taking time to create art, or to just doodle, is important. It’s also a safe place. There’s no judgment. It’s like tending a garden. Some days I need to spend more time on the planning, other days I need to spend more time on the art, and other days I need to just relax and enjoy the sunshine. I’ve learned to listen to my inner creative voice, the voice that says, “you really need to slow down, maybe take an hour and read or doodle.” Sometimes when the inner creative voice is telling me I need to slow down, be mindful, even when the creativity feels a little off, I’ll take a walk or read, and I feel refreshed, and then the ideas flow again, the creativity flows again, and I run with it.

I started the Listening Path: The Creative Art of Attention, by Julia Cameron the author of The Artist’s Way, on February 1st. It’s a 6 week self guided program. So far it’s been great. Here is the introduction video I did about it. I’ve decided to do videos and posts about it. I just started, it’s only day 8, the first week was the intro, which was last week, so my next post will be all about it, but I thought y’all might be interested. I would love to post on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I think I’ll make Saturday’s the updates on the Listening Path. However, the Intro and Week 1 will be this week during the week, since I’m a little behind on here.

Today’s Daily Soul Vitamin, from the book The Awe-Manac: A Daily Dose of Wonder, is “Helped are those who create anything at all, for they shall relive the thrill of their own conception and realize a partnership in the creation of the Universe that keeps them responsible and cheerful.” ~Alice Walker

Have a great day!

Burgess