I love to write. It keeps me happy and it keeps me sane. But to keep writing, with all of life’s responsibilities, distractions and writerly setbacks, I have to do more than just turn up on the page. I have to remind myself that it’s more than just learning the craft and producing words. It’s about finding inspiration and living creatively, and in this sense there is no difference between writers, musicians and artists of all kinds. Creativity experts like Julie Cameron, Eric Maisel, Jen Gash, and Elizabeth Gilbert wouldn’t draw distinctions.
And if we know anything, we know that artists can be high maintenance. We get hungry, bored, over excited. Not to mention anxious, neurotic, depressed. We need feeding. And soothing. Entertaining and challenging.
Starve the artist at your peril, for she will rise up and eat you whole! To be honest, I starve my artist pretty regularly so I know what I’m talking about.
I know what balance looks like, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to maintain! I still struggle to keep mindful of what it is that I need today, in order to write.
Walking the Walk
This blog is about me walking the walk a little more. It’s an exploration of how I can best live creatively and how it is that we get our words onto the page. We’re all trying to find our way, aren’t we?
Aristotle said “We are what we repeatedly do.” I’m not big on quotes but I love this. We are what we repeatedly do. If we repeatedly write, we become a writer. If we repeatedly love, we are loving. If we repeatedly nourish ourselves we are nourished.
Nourishing the Writer
I still struggle with this… I’m pretty good at getting things done, working through a to-do list, tackling difficult or unpleasant tasks. But I’m not always so great at looking after myself. I have to really work at that side of things. I know how important it is to live a life mindful of exhaustion – there is no pleasure in anything when we are depleted of rest, laughter, pleasure. It’s like trying to run a car without water.
I have to remind myself that it takes just half an hour out of my day, in between working, to walk up into the woods and listen to the water flowing. I can take a notebook and scribble some thoughts. Or just be.
Alternatively, I could take my time preparing something to eat at lunchtime, something nourishing and comforting, enjoying favourite aromas, evocative flavours, inspiring colours – this is a very personal thing that mightn’t work for everyone but, for me, there is something about preparing food with care, full of appreciation, that helps me feel both alive and at ease. I’m not talking fancy food, but something simple, flavoursome, much-loved.
Similarly, I could make a cup of tea and treat myself to fifteen minutes of reading one of the books from the pile next to my bed. I can choose to pepper my day with snatches of rest and nourishment – but often I still forget! Who do you think you are, can be the subtext to my thinking. And that’s okay. We think a lot of things that are harsh, untrue, misleading! What’s the best skill for a writer to cultivate? The ability to ignore her inner critic!
Finding the right balance
Nothing works well when it’s out of balance. Years ago I struggled to make writing a regular part of my life – I was afraid and procrastinating and full of doubt! Life was out of balance because I neglected the words that wanted to be put upon the page.
These days I only want to write. I find it hard to stop – to come away from my fictional creations in order to do other – important! – things! Nothing else in life feeds me in quite the same way as putting those words on the page. But, of course, although it feels as if nothing else nourishes me, it’s not true. Where would I be without the work I love, the people who are dear to me, the chance to be in nature, to eat good food and play with friends??
It’s essential to cultivate balance in our lives, whatever our fears, obsessions and desires. This blog explores that process of shifting and balancing the competing needs in life. It’s about writing – of course! But it’s also about living more creatively, a little more spaciously, with balance always in mind.