Refilling the Creative Well

There is much to be said about down time. That time when we need to stop what we are doing in our busy lives, close the apps. turn off the ringer and do something that makes us happy.

Some people call it…“finding their bliss”, or “recharging their batteries”.

But there is another facet to downtime that is especially important to creative people. And I don’t mean only people who consider themselves “creative”. I think it’s important for everyone who needs to think creatively in their work not just artists, writers and designers.

This concept has been written about extensively in art texts, from Julia Cameron to Joshua Ward. There is a lot of advice out there and I’ve found wonderful advice in every column I’ve read on the subject. But I think there is still more to say.

We take in enormous amounts of information on a daily basis. Our cell phone addictions contribute to the constant input. News alerts, facebook notifications, texts, voice mail messages, IM’s – the constant picking away through that once personal space is jarring at times, almost violating in its ability to interrupt our thought patterns, work flow or creative process. But does all of that access to information actually help us do our jobs properly or does is hinder us by numbing us to what is really the most important?

If we get so much input all day long, why do we need to refill the well?

Yes, we are surrounded by stimuli. We continually take in fresh reference material by just living our lives. It gets absorbed into our gray matter like a constant feed, but the question is… Is what gets absorbed ripe for plucking at your most creative moment?

Is what we see, hear and touch during our regular day all valuable? And if so can we access the information when you need it?

The answer for me at least, is no. The daily buzz that jangles through my nerves and veins is not the well that I go to when I need to deliver my best.

For me I need to shut off that jarring digital stimuli and fill my well with sights and sounds and smells from the real world. The outside world.

My well gets refilled by taking a daily hike through fields, woods and wetlands.

Things are slower there. I can take deep breaths, smell the sweetgrass growing, hear the leaves rustle, focus on birdsongs in the distance and remember what its like to be connected to the earth… my real world again.

Being outside, feeling the sun on my face, watching wildlife while it watches me back is a connection like no other for me. I need that experience to fill the well that I dip into at my most creative times. As cliché as it sounds, it sustains me, it keeps me fresh, hungering to learn more about my surroundings.

When I don’t find that time to refill the well outdoors, I lose focus, I lose inspiration, I can’t give the amount of myself I need to, to excel at my job, cherish my family or even myself.

I’ve learned this over time. So now I make those experiences a priority, and I’m a much happier and much more successfully creative person for it.

I hope in time, you can find your own inspiration.

If you have found it… please share in the comments. I’d love to learn how you refill your own creative well.