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