We’ve all experienced those days (weeks, months) when responsibilities and crises and joys and grief dominate our lives and drain our creative energy. During these times, we may not only lack the time to write but also the will or desire. We’re overwhelmed, and writing may feel like just one more thing on the to-do list.
How might you re-charge your creative self? Right now, I’m at summer residency at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Those familiar with the program know how exciting it can be to see old friends and meet new ones while attending to the wealth of lectures, workshops, readings, and meetings that fill the schedule. I asked some fellow faculty members how they refresh their creative selves both during this ultra-busy time and in general.
Rita Williams-Garcia mentioned her rejuvenating “knitting meditation.” Says Rita: “While I knit I let go of forcing solutions. Sometimes the place I am in in my knitting suggests patterns and creative solutions. Knitting sets up my mind to be predisposed to seeing solutions in my creative work.”
Coe Booth, Garrett Freymann-Weyr, Amanda Jenkins, and Betsy Partridge are trying to gather and work on creative projects for an hour several times during residency. “I put down 800 words today,” says Coe. “They may not be great words, but they still help my story to move forward.”
If she has 15 minutes here or 20 minutes there, Betsy tries to duck into the campus library to research and read for a current project on the Vietnam War Memorial. “That way I can keep my project in mind and the momentum going till I can find more time for it,” she says.
Bonnie Christesen listens to classical music, especially Brahms, and Tim Wynne-Jones walks early in the morning to a nearby waterfall and listens to music. He protects this quiet time. These moments are important, he says. They are the “opposite of talking.”
Sharon Darrow loves the rushing brook near her home. She likes to take occasional breaks from writing and family responsibilities and walk there and listen during the day. She tries to replicate this experience at residency by visiting the fountain close to College Hall and listening for 3 to 5 minutes.
During ultra-busy times, I find it helpful to be mindful. One of my favorite rejuvenating activities is walking. As I amble, I try to attend to the world around me–the summer gardens, the evening bird song, the shimmer of twilight over the distant hills. I try to be mindful of this small creative moment I’m crafting for myself and to be alive to the world rather than simply moving through it.