The Ebb and Flow of Creativity

My youngest son, Korry, is an amazing artist. He LOVED to draw from the time he was very young and would draw on anything he could find when the wave of creativity hit . . .even gum-wrappers.

One of my other sons was expecting his first child. We knew it was a boy and one night I had a dream about him before he was born. In the dream he is rescued by a Raven. I woke up thinking that maybe that was my grandson’s guardian in his upcoming journey through life.

I asked Korry to draw a Raven-man. I explained the dream and gave him an idea of what I was looking for. Korry had a unique style of drawing, kind of a dark, gothic style—like a lot of tattoos you see. I bought him a large canvas and a new box of drawing pencils. (He wasn’t much of a painter, more an illustrator.)

After a day or two, Korry brought me the canvas with the drawing. I almost fell of my chair. The drawing was so rudimentary, it looked like it was drawn by a fourth-grader.

Our conversation:

Korry. Seriously? This is for your nephew! To hang over his crib. Is this supposed to be the ‘Raven-man’?” I pointed to the little four-inch raven character. He had a ten-year-old’s body with the head of a raven; he wore jeans, tennis shoes, and a striped t-shirt.

Korry’s reply: “Mom, I just couldn’t think of what to draw. It just wouldn’t come to me. That is why I waited a couple of days. But, it just wouldn’t come.”

Through conversations with various artists, to include writers, ‘it’ is the flow of creativity. One woman told me that she taught art in elementary school. “True artists cannot just draw what you ask or when you ask for it. This flow of creativity just bursts out when it’s ready and they heed the call. This is why it hard for them to draw on demand.”

I love to write when I am passionate about something. The writing comes easier and I’m able to make my point or tell the story. But . . . I am more of a sprint-runner not a marathon runner, so my passion runs hot but burns out quickly. This is why I stick to writing blogs or essays. Sometimes it may take me two months to write even one blog—like this one.

I believe writer’s block is really an ‘ebb’ in the process. Maybe the creativity moves inward to get more energy. If you are trying to make a living with your art, having deadlines or writing a story that was assigned to you would be far more difficult. It can still be done but the passion for creativity isn’t as potent. Just like my son’s drawing. It was what I asked for but it lacked his creative passion.

Writing to create an amazing novel would require the flow in order to really grab readers. Hey, there are readers who will devour a book—any book—to pass the time and satisfy the need to escape the daily mundane world. These readers are not as picky and if you ask them how many books, they’ve read that really grabbed them, they can quote you a handful of titles . . . out of the hundreds they have read.

If you are writing for fodder, that comes easy and quick to a talented writer. They can write about paper clips and make it sound interesting. An innate talent BUT writing powerful non-fiction will take creative passion.

Why am I saying all this?

I think that for passionate writers, writer’s block is just an ebb. One that is necessary to regroup the creative juices so they can spring upon the writer when it is ready.

Ebb-and-flow is really the part of life, not just writing. Don’t force it or fight it when you are experiencing writer’s block. I suggest going out and doing something mindless so the energies can swirl around. Mundane tasks require something to think about. While trimming my bushes, I pretend I am talking to authors and discussing the ebb and flow of writing. All of a sudden, I have to run in and write.

When the ebb appears, be comfortable with taking a break until it opens to the flow again. It will if you honor it and allow the flow. Writer’s Block is a good name for blocking the flow of creativity by trying to force the creative energy out of its rest when it isn’t ready. The writing is disjointed or nebulous, so the writer becomes frustrated, and all of the energy is wasted. This can go on for a while. Whatever happens, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Put it away and go mow the lawn, then, the energy of frustration is channeled into physical labor until it abates.

Honoring the ebb is honoring an integral part of the creative process and creates balance in the writing. Allowing the ebb and flow will make it easier to eliminate writer’s block all together. When in the flow, cancel appointments, put off unnecessary cleaning, and just write. If you have children, incorporate them into the activity in order to take immediate advantage. Write as much as the flow allows and stop when it begins to ebb.

So move with the ebb and flow, soon writer’s block will take a smaller space in your head.

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