A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend and described my life as a game of Jenga. Between my hours on the WIP, my kids’ end-of-school activities, projects and exam preparations, jam-packed weekends and my husband’s work schedule, it felt like adding one more thing to the pile might just bring it all crashing down.
Or bring me crashing down.
I learned to exercise the power of no some years back, when life took a dark and twisty turn, and I’ve thankfully retained the skill. But there are some things you can’t say no to, like research papers on George Orwell and models of the solar system and family weddings and plumbing disasters and end-of-school parties and…well, you get the picture.
By the last day of school, I was worn down and wiped out. I was brain dead and soul tired, feeling completely depleted and struggling with my writing. Luckily, I’d planned ahead and within 48 hours, we were standing on the sand in Santa Cruz, with a lovely 8 night stay stretching before us.
Usually, we roll into town and I’m immediately there, instantly relaxed and rejuvenated. This time, it took a while longer because I was so tightly wound. In fact, I was writing in my journal early on the second morning when I realized I wasn’t there yet. So I made a concerted effort to let go, to turn off the shoulds, to stop the addiction to doing and surrender to being. Once that happened, once I relaxed and started to breathe again, once I stilled my mind and gave it time to wander, the ending of the WIP started unfurling itself in my head, one precious petal at a time. I suddenly felt that familiar, joyous leaping in my middle as my creative fire reignited and the voices of my characters rushed in to fill the void.
Creativity requires stillness. It requires being as much as doing, and the creative mind needs time to relax, unbend, and pull itself away from the ordinary daily life tasks. It’s in that wandering dream space that inspiration happens, that plot kinks unravel, characters speak and story begins to paint itself in bold, brilliant strokes.
When life feels like a big, bad wave tumbling your hapless butt to shore, sometimes the best thing to do is walk out of the surf for a while, sit on the sand and soak up some sun while you catch your breath and wait for the magic to return.
My stint on the beach seems to have done the trick for me. But I’m curious. How do you refuel your soul and rekindle your creative spark?