coaching

Creativity with structure? Or let it flow?

A recent article getting a lot of attention talks about how some people may thrive on a lack of balance and mindfulness. It suggest that perhaps being mindful and calm just isn’t for everyone.

Taffy Brodesser-Akner, an acclaimed writer for the New York Times, speaks to the need to hide in the bathroom to puzzle out a piece of her novel during a family dinner. Of juggling many balls at once to get it all done. She talks about NOT letting the big idea float away because she is trying to lie in savasana in yoga and empty her mind.

I agree with the author on her premises of how to work as a creative and get her writing done. When working with my writing clients, I often say that it is necessary to ride the creative wave when it hits. When everything is clicking and the words are pouring onto the page, clear the decks of all else and let that flow happen. Hide in the bathroom when the inspiration hits. Cancel plans and let the house get messy when inspiration is visiting.

In such waves of inspiration, sitting still is excruciating. Clearing my mind–not helpful.

It’s important to realize, however, that creative juices don’t flow evenly and always. I find that they come in waves. Ride them when they are there. But when the flow disappears, it’s time to rest and recharge and clean up our lives to prepare for the next influx.

Balance rarely means doing everything all the time in equal portions. Rather, it means that over the course of a bigger span of time, we are connecting with all of the pieces that matter to us. I can be a super mom for a week, and then a writer for another week. Can I be a super mom and an inspired writer all at once in the same day? Not very often, and if I do, my energy will be zapped for days.

When I do go on a creativity binge and write until my fingers are sore, I have to recover with sleep, self-care, and yoga. I need to recharge my inner battery by shutting off the phone and the email and the to-do list.

Mindfulness is very important in the times when we are stuck in critical pieces of our lives be it work, creativity, relationships or otherwise. It is an important tool when we have a decision to make and need to discern the best decision. Clearing of one’s mind is not necessarily getting rid of all thoughts. It is getting rid of the chatter. The negative tapes. The inner critic that sits in our head and judges us (and is NOT us). It is listening for the inner voice of truth and wisdom—finding the important voice by turning down the noise. THAT voice is where all of the creativity comes from.

Coaching provides a way to help us to find that inner zen. Mindfulness alone cannot find our own blindspots. Partnering with a trained professional can help to create the structures and habits that can restore our energy and point us back to our purpose when we are stuck, lost, or just moving in too many directions at once. It can also help us to rebound into those flows when life seems filled with creativity and joy.

So yes, chaos might reign and be healthy in the good times of abundance. But in the droughts of creativity, of energy, of love—coaching, mindfulness, body movement, rituals and prayer, quiet moments—all of these skills can give us healing. Can give us comfort. And can help us to find our way back to our purpose so that joy and inspiration can flow again.

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