finding your flow + accepting the process

PHEW. You know, when I embarked on a series of Disney posts, I never imagined they could consume my entire September. But you know what? They did. And now that that’s all past, I’m getting back to the root of things in a post that was written over a month ago.

It’s about the detouring time off we must take, the new interests we must pursue, and the renewal we’ll inevitably feel when we come back to it all with a blank slate and a bunch of new ideas. Because it’s OK to go down a rabbit hole every now and then. It’s that journey that makes us stronger in who we are and who we’re ready to be. . . .

“But you should be writing,” you tell yourself. “You should be working, and creating, and posting.” But no, not necessarily. Yesterday (i.e. 6 weeks ago), I finally hit a point of inspiration and accomplishment. Things were getting done, fun was being had, connections were being made, and I could finally feel the storm of my mind blowing over me.

And you know what did it?

Not sitting at my desk feverishly typing. Not forcing myself to do what I didn’t feel like doing. Not pushing forward, not stressing myself out, and definitely not holding myself to any kind of standard.

What did it was the act of giving myself the freedom to not write – the freedom to close my laptop, walk away, have a few drinks with friends and get out into the world.

I believe our most important job as writers – especially as humans writing for other humans, and as humans processing their own thoughts and feelings – is to let ourselves live. We need to get out there, experience things, and give ourselves a chance to get out of our own melodramatic heads.

Some creatives can lock themselves up for days and be incredibly productive. Some days even I can type for hours without a lull. But there are a lot of times I’m just uninspired, or I’m so inspired that I can’t seem to focus all my thoughts into one cohesive piece. I’ll give myself headaches trying to function, trying to push through, trying to beat my mind into submission.

And it doesn’t do a lick of good. In fact, it makes things worse.

Over the last several days, I’ve taken some quality time to myself. I didn’t do any writing. Instead, I went to Live on the Green in Nashville, where I dressed up in my wild woman attire (against my inner judgement), got a little buzzed, listened to some insanely talented women perform, and even got to meet one of them. It was a freeing experience, one that allowed me to step away from my work and come back to it refreshed – acknowledging this very fact:

We all have our own unique flow, & sometimes that flow requires a pause button to get it back on track.

This coming week, I’m going on a family vacation – which sounds like a very easy, fun thing – but tends to cause me a little stress. There’s the early morning flight, the 3 hours of waiting I’ll be doing before we all get there, the deciphering of plans, and the inevitable burn out. Of course, it’s going to be a great time, but I’m going to come out of it tired. So, in preparation, I gathered some friends together for a little daytrip back to Chattanooga.

Chattanooga has become an energy center for me. It revitalizes my soul, it challenges me, and it leaves me feeling refreshed and ready to go. The first thing we did there was a hike to our favorite spot – Sunset Rock – and as soon as we came up on it, something compelled me to walk to the very edge and sit down on it, so I could feel grounded as I looked at the wide world all around me. A few seconds later, it dawned on me how vulnerable that act was, and how easily it could have ended in disaster. But I felt a sort of calm – a sense that it would be just fine – and I went on with the rest of my day, excited about the possibilities of my writing, my work, and my impending trip.

You see, this trip – this hitting of the pause button – was a necessary part of ensuring my creative flow. If I hadn’t taken it, sure I might be packed by now, but I wouldn’t be taking the time to write this post. I would still be bogged down by the lack of timeliness between posts, unsure of what to say, and feeling a whole lotta lost.

It’s true – when you’re a creative, your lack of creativity can affect the quality of your life. Feeling unproductive, or unsuccessful, can make you feel less than, and it can leave you wondering why you’re even pursuing that creative dream in the first place.

But you don’t have to be creating all the time in order to be a creative person. You need to be living. You need to find balance. And you need to figure out what those things look like and how they uniquely work for you. That’s the only way that you – JUST YOU – can survive as a creative.

Otherwise, you might find you’re only “just getting by.” And that won’t do any of us one bit of good, now, will it?