Just about a year ago, I wrote a post about the dark side of creation--that time when we draw into ourselves to let things ferment. Harriet Wakelam, whose own experiences inspired my post, talks about it this way:
I have recently been through one of those 'life reinventions'. Unlike the current 'sexy' portrayal of creativity the process was absorbing, consuming and sometimes dark and scary. During the process I switched off from my networks. One minute I was talking, the next I was disconnected.
This is me--one minute I was talking and the next I disconnected. For months I was full of ideas and plans and then, like that, they switched off. I found that I had gone as far as I could go at that time in talking about careers and career re-invention and professional development. My blog posts dried up, I stayed off Twitter, my participation in LinkedIn groups dwindled and my Facebook updates have largely been about art-related topics.
At first I thought it was a temporary thing, that I just needed to take a few weeks off from the connections. But the few weeks became a few months and I felt dry as a bone. I've also felt guilty for my silence here, but silence seemed preferable to writing from the dry, silent place.
I've discovered, over time, that this is how my creativity works. Deeply productive and abundant periods of growth followed, inevitably, by long periods of fallowness. I cannot anticipate or control the times when the Muse is silent, any more than I can force the periods of creative abundance to occur. Each has its own season and I can only honor both periods, the yin and the yang of the creative process.
As we enter 2013, instead of a New Year's resolution, I am going with a "Word of the Year"--a word that can guide my activities and my intentions. My word for this year is "Release." I chose it because I turn 50 in September and as I move into a new phase of my life, it feels important to me to let go of the habits, thoughts, activities and connections that no longer serve me well. After almost 50 years, I need to make some space for new things in my life.
One of the things I want to release is the judgement I place on myself for the fallow periods. I also want to release the pressure to always "produce" and the need to "say something, "when silence is really what's called for. Sometimes the most learning and growth takes place in the gaps.
Here's hoping that in release, the fallow fields begin to produce again. . .