Creative Output Vs Restorative Output

Whether you’re building a business, writing a book, learning an instrument, or developing a new friendship, a major output of creative energy is required.

It’s not enough to just show up and spend some time — you have to actively engage, pay close attention, craft something new out of nothing.

You have to fold together your dreams, your grit, your humour, and pour this heady mix liberally over your goal.

And liberally is the key word, because any big new undertaking requires a lot of this particular elixir.

The problem happens, of course, when your supply of creative juice starts to run dry.

It’s a little shocking, actually, how quickly this can happen.

For days, even weeks, you’re flying, immersed and in flow for hours.

And then you sit down one morning and feel like your brain has been wiped clean of any spark of interest or inspiration.

You try to get warmed up, working on a few lines here, going through the motions there, and everything feels uncooperative and heavy.

It feels like your creativity is having a sulk in the corner and flailing around erratically every time you try to grasp it.

This is sure sign that your well of energy is starting to run dry.

And if you want to be able to keep coming back to your creative work or new skills, you have to figure out how to refill it.

Physical wells are usually fed by multiple aquifers, water seeping into the supply over weeks and months from various directions.

It’s the same with your own well. Your supply is restored by input of the things you find rejuvenating, just as rain replenishes the water level.

Maybe rejuvenation for you comes from exercise, meditation, walks in nature. It could be an indulgent afternoon of reading, a long nap, a weekend with no plans (or plans out the wazoo, if you’re extroverted).

Allowing yourself time for these restorative moments is so key in a creative life.

If you don’t, if you continue to draw from the well when your supply is low, then sooner or later, a drought will come over the land, scorching and cracking open what was once green and productive.

Droughts are ferocious, dangerous, the enemy of your dreams.

Allowing your well to run so dry that you have no creative energy for an extended period of time robs you of your joy, your momentum, your vision.

A little more output now is not worth a collapse later.

So if you’re on the cusp, and you know your supply is starting to run low, rest while you can.

Don’t wait for a drought to force your hand.

Make some time. Do what restores you. Refill your well, and come back to the work refreshed.