The Winter of Your Creativity: Creative Cycles & Need for Downtime

the snowy road in the English countryside - this is my street!

This is the road to my cottage in England, where I am writing to you

All of the big snow here in the English countryside has got me thinking a lot about creative cycles, and how Winter is such an underrated season when it comes to creativity.


All of the photos in this post were taken with my iPhone, during my noontime walks into town.


Creative Lifecycles

Creative cycles operate a lot like the seasons in the natural world.

Every plant requires support through it’s natural cycles, from germanating, rooting, sprouting, leafing, flowering, fruiting, and then going to seed again before a period of dormancy.

A gardener knows that spring, summer, fall and winter all mean different tasks and activities: preparing the ground, planting seeds, nurturing growth, weeding, harvesting, and sometimes allowing the ground to lie fallow and regenerate from time to time.

the gate across the street from my English cottage

the gate across the street from my English cottage

The Healing Power of Nature and Seasons

The person who first got me thinking about the creative lifecycle was a doctor who practices Chinese Medicine.

Chinese medicine incorporates the elements of nature and seasons into the treatments. Our diet, supplements, treatments and physical activity are chosen for their harmony with the season.

This doctor advised me to consider the seasonal cycles of the natural world when planning my work activities.

I remember him saying that Winter, for example, is not a great time to start new things. Think about Spring, instead. Try to heed what Winter offers.

It took me many years to actually take in all of his advice. I never believed rest was that important and that being in constant production mode was no big deal. I even prided myself on not taking vacations!

Until I got burnt out and then just felt so unwell for many years. That made me listen.

a typical Cotswolds cottage, just down the street

The Need for Downtime

Instead of producing creative work and constantly being ON, I’ve learned the value of slowing down, going inward, and letting my creative practice meander more.

Allowing my creative practice to almost look like a lull in activity is much like Winter.

Dormancy is a natural part of every lifecycle.

We humans, in our 24/7 always connected world, can circumvent downtime if we wish.

But I’ve really grown to appreciate what Winter offers. So much so, that this year, I decided to travel from Southern Mexico where I live, to spend December in England, with a “real” Winter season.

The big snowstorm that met me in the Cotswolds was just a lovely bonus.

The signpost here in Blockley, England. Notice that Village Shop is singular. There really is ONE shop.

Dormancy Is Potent Life Force

Winter is a natural cycle of of rest, reflection, and repose.

Danger! It might look like the tree is dead, but its really just in a natural dormancy period.

Nothing in nature exists in full flower all the time.

(There is a quote or poem that says something to that effect, but I can’t find it.)

the walk down my street in Blockley

Understanding where you are in the creative cycle can help enormously in soothing your mind and emotions.

Knowing where you or a particular project is in the creative lifecycle helps you locate where you are, and what tasks are appropriate.

If you’re not feeling so inspired or active, there’s no need to freak out. Maybe you need some rest and reflection.

Sun starts going down at 3:30 pm – the view out my back window.

As I mentioned in Taking Stock of Your Year with a Year End Review, so many if us are crawling across the finish line of 2017 with fatigue, burnout and the blahs.

This is an invitation to turn inward, re-light our tiny fuses and find comfort and warmth.

the winter of creativity - the snowy forest road where I am working now

Writing, journaling & planning

There’s so much more I’ve got to share with you on navigating your own creative cycles.

It’s part of something brand new I’ve been working on to support you in creating more, but with less effort. Code word: effortLESS.

Watch this space for details, or subscribe to get my blog posts sent to your inbox (at the end of this post) so you don’t miss it.

Meanwhile your can go here to get some year-end journaling questions to help you take stock of your accomplishments.

One more thing! My friend and best-selling author Jen Louden made a truly gorgeous calendar filled with a whole year of powerful prompts to help you MAKE what you WANT. You can download it free right here.

Now…it’s time for another pot of Earl Grey Tea… and a crumpet.

6 Responses to The Winter of Your Creativity: Creative Cycles & Need for Downtime

  1. Claudia December 20, 2017 at 2:33 am #

    Thank you for the reminder. I was wondering what is “wrong” with me. Going to spend some intentional time-out! Beautiful photos!

  2. helen December 15, 2017 at 9:11 pm #

    oooh thank you for the beautiful pictures for me to oggle while i am having my cuppa tea (and danish) – so pretty…. yes, hello from across the pond and west coast of canada where we are definitely having the warmest (read foggy with occasional sun etc) fall/winter so far. Isn’t travel marvelous – you can go and plonk yourself literally in a whole new universe it seems…. bravo! yes thank you for sharing…i will snuggle back under my down duvet in appreciation tonight xoxo

  3. Anne Barlow December 14, 2017 at 9:43 pm #

    I love your photos…. They remind me of my home in Ireland that I left many years ago….. I am feeling rather nostalgic as I look at that lovely village you are spending time in.

    It has been tremendously important for me in my life to follow earth based living. I am reminded daily that I need to slow down, However, it is only by listening to the earth and her seasons that I can fully embody this practice.

    You ask terrific questions that sparks my interests and I begin to ponder my world and reality. Thank you so much, I appreciate your way of being.
    Have a wonderful time in the snow and enjoy your time away.
    Warmly,
    Anne

  4. Mary December 14, 2017 at 9:23 pm #

    Your photos are glorious! What a wonderful retreat. Thank you for sharing. Such solitude

  5. Tom M December 14, 2017 at 9:12 pm #

    Very interesting and thougtful piece. Thank you!!

  6. Annie December 14, 2017 at 8:03 pm #

    Dear Ms. Sonora, Thank you for the lovely photos. And your words of wisdom and contemplation. So true about feeling exhausted and burnt out, towards the end of December. Our bodies have a way of speaking to us and letting us know, exactly what we need. Happy Holidays.

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