Inner dialogue often becomes cartoonish, or not pretty. How often are you not nice to yourself? How many times have you had an argument with yourself, only to get so irate that you don’t speak to yourself for weeks?
In my case, I tend to expect too much. I then get mad at myself for thinking “too much” and proceed to yell at myself for coddling. I then get mad at myself for yelling at myself.
This happens most often after I look over project piles that somehow amassed in every room of of my home.
I once attributed this series of “incompletes” to some moral or character failure, especially when my whole house wasn’t magically polished, and bursting forth with high profits, finished books and magically made homemade decor at the end of every day.
Then the Artist’s Way changed the situation. I started paying close attention to the experiences of others struggling with the emotional, physical, mental and situational blocks to creativity. I realized something:
our ability to create is absolutely infinite. But most of us are only able to access a limited amount of that energy at a time.
Suddenly the real dangers and temptation of methamphetamines have become very clear to me.
I read one author – if I remember who it was, I hope to come back and link properly – who, upon her pregnancy, expected to have 9 months of creative orgy, or perhaps six, once the morning sickness passed. She planned elaborate gardens, a decorated house, finished books. Instead she needed lots of sleep. She expressed guilt at how flesh did not follow spirit.After giving birth, her creative energy returned. She figured out that it was because her creative energy was quite busy creating another human being. The garden could wait until mitosis finished, thank you.
While I have heard of women having the opposite experience -pregnancy leading to a mad “nesting,” I suspect that this woman’s experience is far more typical than people would like to admit.
Pregnancy is not the only way creative energy can face limits. Just as I have to build my capacity to conduct energy in magical practice, I have also had to build my capacity to be creative for extended periods of time – or to bank the material from those rare creative frenzies so that I can work even while uninspired. Even so, there’s only so much to go around before my soul needs the food that it pulls from so that I may create (or “shape” as those of the Reclaiming tradition prefer.)
As a writer who makes it a point to know other professional writers, I know that all of us committed to the craft learn how to work without inspiration. Inspiration, a neurological flash, is what starts the work, but to continue it takes the real muscle structure of commitment and consciously formed habit. ((note I do not use the guilt and complex-creating word discipline))
This is how I forgive myself for being more oriented to writing here, and for my books, rather than focusing on the plus-size fashion blog or my Etsy shop. I only have so much creative energy at a time. While I am doing what I can to increase that creative energy by going through the Artist’s Way, psychotherapy and re-establishing my meditation practice, as well as sticking to those artist’s dates, it is still something that I must steward, just as I am stewarding myself in creative physical endurance (and enhancing my creative output in the long run) by making sure I continue going to the gym 4 days a week.
This understanding that our ability to conduct creative energy is finite and can be increased over time lends further credence to Julia Cameron’s credo of one small thing. That “small thing” becomes a little bit larger every time, every day, as we build our skill and endurance over time, until we are accomplishing great things by the measured increase of our ability to conduct that creative energy.
But it’s perfectly OK that we can’t do everything. We can do anything, not everything, and sometimes the only way to get it done is in very small chunks with what energy we get for that day.