During the past two weeks, I’ve been experiencing something that hasn’t happened in a while.
That something is simple: a lack of creativity.
But it’s anything but simple when your livelihood is in large part due to the creation of new things.
New products. New designs. New classes. It’s all about the new, my friends. And sometimes, when I’m reaching into that bag of tricks, I’m surprised to come out empty handed.
This comes in cycles. It always has. Most of the time, it really doesn’t phase me, but I like to share it because while I love how I make a living, it doesn’t always come with automatics and a steady stream of good ideas. There is always an ebb and a flow. Right now, I feel the ebb and so I thought by writing about it, I might shake something loose.
My mom recently told me a story about my 5th grade teacher, Mr. Heidman. He was one of my favorite teachers and it was he who instilled in me a love of stories. I remember being so engrossed in his class during story time. I can still remember sitting with rapt attention in a large circle of students on the floor as he read aloud from a book which became one of my childhood favorites, Me and Caleb. I remember, too, reading Where the Read Fern Grows around that time, and connecting to the fact that a story could make you laugh but it could also make you cry.
Back to my mom. We were talking about Mr. Heidman because I recently tracked him down to send him a letter of thanks, to thank him for lighting the flame of creativity in me at such a young age, and my mom said, “You remember what he said about you, don’t you?” To which I replied, “Um, no… I was 10.” And she told me, “He said, ‘boy, if she ever figures out what she wants to do, look out!'”
Writing, taking photos, designing things… this stuff has been a part of my life since I was young. I don’t think of creativity as something that is necessarily bestowed upon a person but I do think of it much like any other hobby or passion: you cultivate it because it feeds you. Sometimes, when it seems that it has run its course, you just have to remember the ebb and flow and understand that it’s not an endless stream. That sometimes, you have to give back to the process in different ways. You have to fill up and recharge to get it flowing again.
As I was working the other day, literally designing ugly templates, I had to just get up from the computer and walk away. Last week, I did other things like go for walks, watch an Alien marathon while flat on my back during the middle of the day. I played with some card making supplies, but didn’t make anything that looked any good. I felt guilty for not making stuff and not having any really fresh ideas.
I was trying to make and realized there wasn’t anything in the tank to pull out and mold.
There are days when I think of a different career path. I think of my early corporate years from 1991 to 1999, working as a graphic designer in a corporate setting, with a salary and health care benefits and office banter and appropriately decorated cubicles. I never hated that world. I was good at my job and I made some of my closest friends there.
If you had told me, “Oh yeah, and then you’ll quit your job, take about 9 months off with a baby and then all this will follow,” I would have shrugged it off. This amazing career was not remotely in the plan.
I need to recharge. I need to get some balance. I think that even writing this post will help because that is what writing has always done for me. It has helped me. It has guided me. It has allowed me a way to make sense of all the stuff that makes up life on the big blue ball.
Thank you for following along all these years. Or even if you’re new to this little corner of the web, just know it ebbs and it flows. At least that is what I am reminding myself of today.