Recently, I’ve been feeling a resistance to work of all kinds (summer time vibe?!), and a resistance to creating. So I turned to one of my favourite books, Women Who Run With the Wolves (WWRTW), and as always, got the insight I needed.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes likens the “murkiness” of our creative lives to the pollution of a river, and explains the importance of being patient with ourselves, giving time to sit with new ideas before jumping ahead. She also reminds us that the driving force we each have to execute will wear down at some points - a natural part of our cycles. We deserve time to renew and strengthen our intention.
If you’ve lost focus, just sit down and be still. Take the idea and rock it to and fro. Keep some of it and throw some away, and it will renew itself. You need do no more. - Clarissa Pinkola Estes, WWRWTW
She gives nine steps to “take back the river”, to get oneself back on the track of creating with flow:
1) Nurturance: take in the encouragement and compliments people give you on your work and life rather than denying them and letting negative complexes overcome you.
2) Respond: "Creativity is the ability to respond to all that goes around us” - Estes emphasizes the need to recognize what our choices are rather than feel constrained by the feeling of having no choice, which shows we’ve lost our creative means.
3) Be wild - Allow your ideas to be let loose, let anything come, censoring nothing at first.
4) Begin - Estes explains: “If you’re scared, scared to fail, I say begin already.. Let your fear leap out and bite you so you can get it over with and go on. You will get over it. The fear will pass.”
5) Protect your time - it’s important to have boundaries, even with (especially with!!) the people you love. Estes gives the anecdote of a painter in the Rockies who hangs this sign on her house when she is in painting mode: “I am working today and am not receiving visitors. I know you think this doesn’t mean you because you are my banker, agent or best friend. But it does.”
6) Stay with it - regardless of how strong or ready we feel, put in the necessary time to work towards mastery.
7) Protect your creative life - make time to practice your work every day
8) Craft your real work - focus your energy, letting nothing else pull you away from what you truly feel you are here to do.
9) Lay out the nourishment for the creative life: make sure you have the "four basic food groups" covered: time, belonging, passion and sovereignty. These help keep the ‘river’ clean!
I would add a step 10) Take a trip (big or small) every now and again, to help change your perspective and remind you of what you really care about!
Hope you find Estes’ wisdom as useful as I do. Happy creating and renewing!
A passionate educator.. on a quest for a schooling model to love!