Seasons of Creativity

2-20-24_Shouldn_t_this_be_easier

Welcome to Good Enough Creative, a podcast for creative people.

Hi again, welcome back! I’m your host, Marie Greene, and in today’s episode we’re talking about the seasons of our creativity, and how our creative goals can ebb and flow through life. Learning to recognize and adapt to the seasons of our lives can help us embrace changes to our interests, energy, resources and abilities.

So let’s start by talking about what it means to have Seasons of Creativity.

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about ailments – a true sign of not being quite as young as we used to be – and she mentioned she’s not able to knit as much anymore, at least not for long stretches of time. Because her body gives her signals that it’s time to get up and move. Our creative output and our energy and even our focus will shift over time as our bodies change and our responsibilities evolve and as we grow as people. What might have been the perfect hobby in college, may not feel quite as aligned for a new parent, or someone who is caring for an aging relative or who is just embracing the big life change of retirement.

We go through periods where we have so much energy to do all the things that interest us. And I don’t know if it’s that we actually have more time when we’re younger – because that varies so much depending on what we’re doing in life, but it really does feel like I’m busier now than I’ve ever been. And I feel so much more aware of how short time is, and it makes me prioritize differently. You know?

But I think there’s a real challenge in accepting that some periods of our lives require us to approach things differently. There’s not a lot of support for that. Slowing down or being more intentional about how we spend our time is sort of contrary to how the world works these days in this fast paced, quickly changing environment. Technology makes everything seem instant. Have you ever watched a video or reel of someone decorating an intricate cookie or cake? Everything is sped up, which makes it feel like you can design this elaborate piece of edible art in 10 seconds. But when you watch the slow version, it might be 10 minutes to decorate one cookie! So we have this warped sense of how long things take, and I think it’s normal also to internalize the need to produce more and that somehow our value is connected to how much we create.

But our energy can change even just based on the emotional baggage we have going on, not to mention changes in our health or going through something physically strenuous like moving. There will inevitably be times of production and times of rest and reflection – that’s a normal part of the creative journey. And I think we have to be able to acknowledge that process, and make peace with it.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as we navigate our own seasons of creativity.

Creative Spring Time is our period of Blossoming and Beginning. It’s the joy of all the new projects, the energy, the reawakening of old passions that have maybe been dormant for a while. This Creative spring time is nothing to do with our age – it can happen at any phase of life. I just saw a clip of Jane Fonda saying, you can be very old at 60 and very young at 85. So this creative springtime is really about those periods when we feel our creativity sprouting and feel enthusiasm for new projects or even trying new things. It’s a time of reawakening. Have you ever felt that? Maybe you’ve been in a slump for a while and then you just really feel that creative surge come back? I love this season of creativity – it’s my favorite, because it’s when the going and doing and making and creating feels super strong and exciting.

Can you look back on your own life and recognize periods of time when you felt like you were in a creative springtime? Have you been in that season recently? If not, we can invite another season of creative spring when we approach our creative goals based on where we are right now. Sometimes what sends us into a slump is that maybe we don’t feel like we have the time or energy or space to do the things were doing before, but – sometimes we just need to reevaluate and sort of look at where we are right now, and look for opportunities to attract new inspiration. Make space in your life for that creative springtime to return. I think of this a little bit like planting a garden. We might want a yard full of flowers – I know I do – but I also have to recognize that there are just times when I may not have planted the seeds for that garden to grow. So sometimes we have to stop, and prepare ourselves and our space, and seek the inspiration that will help those ideas start to grow and blossom again.

The next phase is The Summer of Creativity – Growth and Flourishing. I know I said spring was my favorite, but I changed my mind. I love summer. I love the period of warm sunshine and flowers in bloom and the extra energy we feel with those long summer days. It’s a great way to envision that creative season where all the seeds you’ve planted are really coming to life. This is a time of energy and rich creative work. But it’s also a period of time where that level of energy and the rich tapestry of ideas might start to lead to burnout if we’re not careful. Sometimes it’s hard to know when to say when. So when we’re up to our elbows in that creative summer, it can be really helpful to keep an eye on our priorities and make sure your ideas are sustainable – not just for the moment, but over time. This is the perfect season for making those connections with your creative community, for setting boundaries to protect your energy, and prioritize your projects. It might feel like you can do everything, but that won’t hold up over time.

I suspect that I spend a lot of my life in a Creative Summertime, which makes sense based on my personality, but I think it’s clear that this isn’t a place we can stay forever. It’s important to move through the seasons so that our creative work can be in alignment with ourselves and our lives.

Do you recognize any seasons of creative summertime in your life? What do you notice when you those periods of time?

The next season is The Autumn of Creativity – a time for Harvesting and Reflecting.

There really is something magic in the air when the season shifts to fall, and you can smell the change. The leaves start to turn and fall and there’s often a hint of a woodburning fire somewhere. It’s the perfect time to reflect on what you’ve created in the past, and to really savor and enjoy the fruits of what you’ve already done. It’s a time to wind down and reflect.

Speaking for myself here, I am often in such a hurry to get to the next thing that I don’t take that time to wind down and reflect. It’s like finishing a big project at work and skipping the debrief where you can unpack how it went, what you learned, and what you might do differently next time. That’s an important part of the journey.

The creative autumn is also a great time for gratitude and sharing what you’ve made with others. As a knitter, this is definitely my season – it’s when all the sweaters and the scarves come out of hibernation and it’s a really fun time to lean into those slow arts. (Although I’ll be honest, I do them year round.)

And of course, the final season of creativity is the winter. It’s a time of rest and dreaming. It’s when things slow wayyy down and look for opportunities to take things at a more leisurely pace.

This is also the perfect time to plan. I love making plans, and this slower season is the perfect time to think about what you might want to do next. And of course, I hope this is obvious, but these creative seasons don’t necessarily align with calendar months or physical seasons of weather. This is about our own periods of creative change. You might be experiencing your own creative winter in July. It just depends on what’s happening in your life.

But one thing that can be tough is that there can be some guilt about taking more time and not saying yes to everything. We live in such a productivity-focused culture, that it might feel like this quiet, slower time of rest and planning is somehow a waste of time. But we really do need to experience all of these seasons at one time or another – because none of these seasons are sustainable forever.

Creative wintertime is a time to restore yourself and to look ahead.

Our creative seasons will shift for a range of reasons, some of which aren’t even our own choice. You may be living your best life in a creative summer, but then break your leg and can no longer get around and do the things you were so eager to do just a few days or weeks ago. So we have to watch for signs that maybe something is shifting so that we can recognize that it’s time for that transition.

Every creative season has its place. There’s a real beauty and peace in recognizing where we are in the ebb and flow of life’s journey.

Whichever season you’re in right now, embrace it. Enjoy it. And know that – whether it’s the season you chose or the season that life chose for you – it won’t be forever. Days will pass and seasons will change. And with them, so will you.

Until next time, my friend – you’ve got this.

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