As creative people, we often think about inspiration. What compels us to the page, or the easel, or the keyboard? What sends us running to the kitchen to perform alchemy with spices, what puts us in the garden planting bulbs and seeds for the promise of color and scent to come?
And what do we do when that sense of urgency doesn’t arrive? When days or weeks or even months go by when our creative juices seem to have run dry?
There are those who will say that creative output is more perspiration than inspiration, that when you begin the work, the inspiration follows. “Inspiration usually comes during work, not before it,” wrote author Madeleine L’Engle.
Others swear by a pre-work ritual – moments of meditation, lighting candles, preparing a special blend of tea, wearing a particular shirt or piece of jewelry – to inspire the flow of creative juices.
I’ve been keeping an eye out for inspiration these days. I’m in one of those ubiquitous dry spells, when nothing seems to provide the creative inspiration or satisfaction I need to get going. It’s pervasive throughout all the creative parts of my life – writing, reading, music. Nothing seems to set off that spark, the one that puts me in search of the nearest pen or makes me excited to settle my fingers on the keyboard.
So as I pondered this the other day, wandering through the house aimlessly fingering the notebooks and index cards scattered here and there, I began to think about my life in general at this moment. In the past few months I’ve gone through quite a sea change in my lifestyle. We lost both of our dogs last year, and suddenly I am free of responsibility for any living creature except myself. My husband retired from his job after 44 years of working, and is now home all day, excited about the prospect of all his free time and looking for pleasant ways to fill it. We are enjoying our new lifestyle enormously. Maybe you’ve heard the saying about grandchildren which goes – “If I had known grandchildren were so much fun, I would have had them first.” We are feeling the same way about retirement. If only we’d known it would be so much fun, we would have done it first!
It occurred to me then that building this new life IS in fact a creative effort on my part. I am changing my routines, building in more time to spend with my husband, looking for meaningful and enjoyable things we can do together. We’re actively planning our future – travel, possible moves, bringing another dog into our family. It’s all new and different, but also exciting. It requires creative energy.
Life and Art usually intersect for me in words and music. But perhaps right now, Art is intersecting with Life itself, and my creativity needs to be put in service of building an entirely new life, one that will carry me forward into the next decades.
Come to think of it, I’m finding the whole idea quite inspiring.
How about you? How is your real life requiring your creative energy right now? Is it affecting your artistic inspiration?
About the Author: Becca Rowan
Becca Rowan lives in Northville, Michigan with her husband. She is the author of Life in General, and Life Goes On, collections of personal and inspirational essays about the ways women navigate the passage into midlife. She is also a musician, and performs as a pianist and as a member of Classical Bells, a professional handbell ensemble. If she’s not writing or playing music you’ll likely find her out walking or curled up on the couch reading with a cup of coffee (or glass of wine) close at hand. She loves to connect with readers at her blog, or on Facebook, or Goodreads.