Overwhelm, shiny new projects, and a soft intention to be more carefree
Wonderful post, Lisa! I do believe strongly that creativity breeds happiness, though I don't think the reverse is always true. I often get my best writing done when I'm feeling full of angst.
Hi Luisa. Great questions! I think creativity cultivates happiness at least that’s how it works for me. I feel more whole through writing and sharing. I’m currently working on a memoir about our experience fostering our five year old son for almost two years and then letting him go. I’m also committed to weekly publications on my Substack, sometimes that trumps the work on the book, but I don’t really stress it. I’m just grateful that I’m finding time to write and that people are finding meaning in what I write.
Love this post! I can relate to it all also! Cycles of CREATE AND DO ALL THE THINGS then uh-oh! OVERWHELM!
I'm a big believer in cycles and energy levels. I hate our world that forces people to perform for 8 hours a day, usually doing things that don't give us joy or let us be creative and in charge of our own time. It no doubt must go against our natural body rhythms, and makes the create > overwhelm cycle seem odd. But what if that's actually how we're designed to work, and the false days are the wrong thing?
Funny enough, I wrote about grief and creativity recently on my pub and I mention the idea that artists must be tortured to be Real Artists. I personally don't think this is the case, but I do think there's a lot of frustration that comes from being a creative in a capitalist society and today's world where productivity is viewed as the ultimate goal. Creativity takes time, it requires the right circumstances—and like you, I beat myself and feel major guilt when I don't Create, Create, Create!
Really enjoyed this! I think for me personally, I feel completely not tortured when I'm creating and it is just flowing in delicious ways. I feel more frustrated/irritable and annoyed when I've neglected to give myself that time to create. Thanks for prompting me to think about it!
‘Overwhelm and its spiky, extroverted, wankered-on-absinthe second cousin, Shiny New Project, sure have a lot to answer for.’ Literally burst out loud laughing at that sentence Luisa! 😆 Can I just say, I absolutely love your writing and how you articulated the very real struggle of the creative. Relate to everything you wrote here 🤗
Beautifully relatable; you’ve captured all our creative emotions. I often find that giving myself permission to take time off a big overwhelming project, or to simply be okay with missing a day of journaling, my creativity explodes and I end up in deep flow. Writers are weird.
A glorious post, Luisa! Your gallery of pictures - and fabulous caption with the story behind each snap - is beautiful.
I'm all about 'cycles'. I'm an all-or-nothing type - I'm forever throwing myself into the next new thing, riding the merry-go-round of new and tempting treats at every turn. Glass art as a hobby? Sure, I'll turn it in to a (now-wound-up) business. Hey, I've found I really enjoy running - so I'll go all-out and run, run, run... and then get a stress fracture in my foot and hate that I did that to myself. Enjoyed a painting course? Okay, I'll be an aaaaartist. I want to go for a walk - so I'll be out all day in all weathers just so I can claim to have done it properly. Last week I made such an amazing cake that I redefined myself as an artisan baker. (This one is RIDICULOUS, as medical issues mean I don't even EAT sugar or starch!)
I despair of myself. It's either one, any or all of the above - which is then counterbalanced with the sighy fug of not feeling able to leave the house.
Within these cycles of frustrating all-or-nothings, though, I will always find a fleeting nirvana: my slot, my niche, the hook on the wall on which to hang my art. The perfect day for the perfect walk turns me into a walker again. A successful day at work makes me a genius. And a post I've loved writing on Substack with a scattering of happy hearts makes me a writer.
This merry-go-round might'n't always be merry, but it's still mine.
Ooh I so relate to this, Luisa. I actually remember when I first started taking antidepressants being so scared that I couldn't be creative anymore, that my depression fueled my creativity. But I think there's creativity to be found in joy too, and that's what slow living taught me. It is definitely a balance though, of hiding away and of being seen. It's a thin line to walk, I guess, as creatives!
Luisa, I was so happy to see your Substack pop up. Yours is one of my favourites to read, (as it appears, you are to many others too). So please know from the beginning that your words on here are being read, contemplated and connected to...that’s huge.
I can relate to being the tortured artist - FOR SURE.
I think Julia Cameron writes a lot about this and her solution to that was the artists way. I’ve never done it the whole way through but during COVID I did join with a group and we practiced “morning pages” together. I loved the community of women which grew up as a result of it. I seem to remember the author describing it as creating in short bursts, like a severed artery (I’m sorry if that’s too graphic!) but it’s stayed with me. I totally get the new shiny cousin vibes and that’s it I’m off, closely followed with shut down and disappear because all my energy has been depleted on the shiny thing which was actually a distraction all along and not the thing I wanted to do. In my case the writing or the painting....hmmm, I have gotten better though. This is because I have really decided to both understand and practice cyclical living. I do not expect myself to have the same energy levels, capacity for concentration or ability to be creative in the same way every single day. I think of my own cycle in seasons...I won’t go into it much more details as there’s loads out there talking about this very thing. I’m just saying for me, this tortured artist, it works - in fact it works across all areas of my life. Maybe in the studies around menopause you will find the same sort of info too. (Red School have a great podcast).
Btw thanks for the tracks and the pictures. You’ve given me lots to mull over as I emerge from hibernation (postpartum again) and out into the spring time energy.
Your yoga cabin and hot tub are incredible!!! I look forward to reading more from you next month ✨
An early morning in the yoga cabin sounds so soothing, I will also listen to your playlist when the house is just for me again. I feel all your words and I think it's about taking that pressure of the dreaded restrictions of consistency, and trusting what we create is enough, having faith that in the fogginess of it all we are resonating and growing, despite the feeling that internally we are getting nowhere and trundling through endless cycles of distrust because we feel unworthy. Your words are always beautifully weaved, it is not the frequency that matters in creativity it's that we continue to practice and stay present in our truth when we do.
What a beautiful read - I think there’s something here about “the call” to have a creative practise and our heart centred work. Both call to us in different ways in find but they are loud and beautiful and we can’t really shut them out? ✨
Hi Luisa. I don't believe we need to be tortured to be creatives. I believe our creativity can be playful, easeful, in-flow, joyful etc. I can't say I've managed to achieve this yet though :'o! I have got a boat-load of resistance and angst around my novel and have done for a while. I feel like the longer it takes me, the harder it is to finish. But then it's torturous not 'being able' to finish it. I've committed to making progress on it throughout April though. I'm going to ask a writer friend if I can send it to her at the start of May. Whatever state it's in.
Just to say first LOVE THIS TRACK
Yes. I relate so strongly to all of this, Luisa. And to the comments above.
Swinging between beating myself up for not writing enough (or being too bloody burnt out to be able to construct a single sentence!) to... waking up at 5am and wanting to do nothing else but create!! Beautiful creations!! And then the excitement around sharing them with the world... and then the sick in the stomach dread after I do share them with the world... and so the cycle continues. Gahhh! But I do think... we were born to create. We just need to work out a way to look after ourselves in the process - to learn to ride the waves. PS absinthe cuz!! Totally now a thing! Xx
Your unearthly hour in your cabin sounds like absolutely bliss!
I’ve been torturing myself for not writing enough and not entering competitions I’ve bookmarked ages ago. What’s wrong with me?!