Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Creativity Energy Leftovers Left Me Undernourished

Somewhere around mid-Spring last year, I began to acknowledge I felt overwhelmed when accessing my creative energy required navigating unexpectedly rough terrain that had once been a joyful jaunt. At first I couldn't see that the problem lay in my support of other people's creativity at the expense of my own. I kept wondering why I had no creative energy left for my work at the end of each day, but it never occurred to me that I was giving it away. After all, we hear all the time that creative energy begets creative energy, so if I was sharing my creative energy with others, I should be increasing my creative energy, right?

Somewhere in there, I signed up for Christina Katz's Unwrapping Your Creativity Challenge (no longer available) with every intention of participating. She emailed a challenge each day to those who signed up. I didn't even start the challenge. The emails went into their own special folder on in my Inbox, and I felt guilty each day that I didn't get to it. 

At the end of the challenge, Christina sent a request for feedback. As I responded to her email apologizing that I couldn't give her feedback because I hadn't had time to do the challenge I paid for and that was supposed to be for me, I actually felt guilty

I sat at my desk wondering why I felt guilty. Then it hit me, I'd signed up for the challenge for the wrong reason. I'd signed up for the challenge to be supportive of a fellow author not for my own creative enhancement.


I felt a knot in my core. What was I thinking? What was I doing? It wasn't the first time I'd taken on something to support someone else rather than to actually benefit from it, and I knew it even if I didn't want to admit it.

As I pondered why I'd made such a commitment when I already had a full schedule, I couldn't find a good answer. I took yet another look at my priorities and where I was putting my time. In essence I'd fallen into a habit of supporting other people's creative endeavors first and leaving mine for whatever creative energy happened to be left over at the end of the day. I'd review someone else's book, give feedback on someone else's work, offer encouragement to someone who was struggling with their current projects, write detailed comments on poems posted on social media by poet friends, take classes I didn't need to take, volunteer to beta read a friend's book, and.... 

Then if I had any creative energy left I'd work on my projects.

This had been going on far too long, and it needed to stop. But I realized something else... There's a certain kind of addiction that happens when other people tell you how much your feedback, your reviews, your comments mean to them. I felt a bit high on the idea of knowing people valued what I had to say and that I was being helpful!

I quietly started to back off. Not because I didn't want to support my friends and colleagues anymore but because I needed my creative energy to go to my projects first and then to others. 

My work deserved more than leftovers...

Now that I've got my creative energy priorities back in order, I can feel grateful for the epiphany that came about as I contemplated why I'd been so resistant to start the challenge after I paid for it.

It' s amazing how these little things add up until one forces you to make a change.

Interesting how life circles back around sometimes. As I considered writing about this, I read Christina's recent blog post, Filling & Refilling Your Inspiration Tank. I could relate. I did relate.

To all my creative friends who felt like I pulled away a bit in 2015, I did, but it wasn't about you, I promise. It really was me. I needed a break. I needed to get in touch with my creative self. I needed to adjust my priorities. I needed to find my creative footing. I needed to put on my creativity mask before helping you with yours. I needed to nourish my creativity with something more nutritious than leftovers...

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