Fill Your Well For More Creative Energy
The other day I got up and went to one of my favourite cafes in the centre of Edinburgh to write and brainstorm a creative idea I’ve had for a while. I felt it was time to start acting on this impulse, because it wouldn’t let go of me. As if this idea had grabbed my sleeve and was tugging it, urging me to follow it the other way to which I was going. Like a child does when she wants to show you something, or wants you to play with her.
Something wanted my attention. The tugs were getting more forceful, and I could no longer ignore it.
I’d been trying and struggling to do things in a certain way for a while, and woke up one morning and thought to myself, “there has got to be a better way.”
This better way is potentially the idea tugging at my sleeve. I’d been ignoring it out of fear, because it would mean stepping into the unknown. I do love exploring the unknown, but I am still human and fear does pop up – in fact, it does so quite often, and I think it might come with the creative territory. I’ve been noticing it comes up even stronger when I am onto something good.
So in my brainstorming session I wrote down all my thoughts about this idea of mine. It’s still not fully formed and it will need time to develop, however, I know I can start taking steps to make it a reality. Or at least explore what it is.
Feeling all inspired I went for a walk to let this all settle, plus I wanted to go and find the Dippers. One of my favourite birds. I still cannot believe you can find them in a city like Edinburgh. I’d only ever seen them on nature programmes and thought they dwelled along rivers in remote landscapes. Even my Dad with whom I share a love for birds and bird watching / photography hadn’t seen one before and almost didn’t believe Dippers were here either.
Recently I’d made the decision to walk along the Water of Leith where they, and other wildlife, live, at least once a week. This is an important part of my work and part of my creative process and I felt I wasn’t doing it regularly enough to keep myself inspired and my creative energy flowing. Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way – a book on creative discovery and recovery – calls this “filling the well”. I love that. Julia says, “[…] we must learn to be self-nourishing. We must become alert enough to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them – to restock the trout pond, so to speak. I call this process filling the well.” (p. 21).
If I don’t fill my well, then I have nothing to give, creatively, or even in terms of relationships with family and friends. I cannot give what is not within me. In the past I tried and tried, but I would burn out, get sick and/or resentful. I was no help (or fun!) to anyone.
Now I do things the other way round. I give to myself by filling my well and making sure I keep it topped up or even overflowing. I do so with my weekly artist/writer dates with myself such as browsing bookshops or libraries, perusing art exhibitions, and walking in nature and finding the Dippers, doing yoga regularly, to name a few.
I was thrilled that I found three Dippers on my walk that day – and in their usual hotspots. I took out my small sketchbook and sketched and made notes of what I saw. Inside, my heart jumped for joy.
Not only that, I made my way to the Botanical Gardens to be amongst the tall trees and see the rhododendrons in bloom, which also delights me. I was pleasantly surprised to find a small exhibition of gorgeous wooden furniture made from the trees in the gardens that had been uprooted by a big storm in 2012. I fell in love with the writing desk on display and wanted to take it home with me.
When I eventually arrived back home I felt restored and inspired, and the feelings continued for a few days. I also made a start on my new idea!
Seeking out experiences that make me feel this way is something I am committed to, and committed to doing more often. In a world where uncertainty is around every corner, at least I know for certain what makes me feel good and joyful, and I can choose to be in control of that. I believe it’s essential for my wellbeing and for doing my bit to hopefully making the world a better place.
How about you? What do you do to fill your creative well? What experiences make you feel good and how can you do them more often? Please share below, I’d love to know.