Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Why is lack of productivity frustrating?

My friend Linda emailed, "I feel like there is so much potential inside me and I don’t know how to express it right now."

I know that frustrating feeling of not being able to express all that hovers untouchably within. I have periods when I just can't get anything out on paper (can we even say that anymore now that we record our thoughts using other media?). When latent ideas lurk unnoticed in my synapses, it feels like I'll never come up with another worthwhile blog let alone enough content for a new book!

After many gaps of productivity, I've realized: it isn't absent proficiency or failure of ingenuity, it isn't lack of technique or even that dreaded writer's block; rather, it is merely the calm of incipient creativity: the pregnant pause. I've come to think of those times as not fallow but incubating periods.

However, while allowing time for results to develop may indeed be a virtue, just patiently waiting it out isn't so beneficial. Just as fish never spontaneously leap into the boat, the next great project isn't going to spring from our minds, fully formed like Zeus birthing brilliant Athena (though that image does give context to the myth!).

Rather than just hoping for inspiration to present a finished work, we'll gain more long-term fulfillment to realize we are in the gestational phase. And we'll end up with a more fulfilling creation if we make the effort to nourish ourselves in all the right ways – with worthwhile books and stimulating conversations and walks in the sunshine and quiet reveries surrounded by nothing but silence.

I tend to spend my down-times regrouping my stamina, gathering new inputs, and mulling thinks over. (Well, that was a typo, but I think I'll leave it!) And then after enough back-mind churning to recombine it all into something more than I ever previously imagined, I find I have more than enough to write.

I hope you'll enjoy your incubating periods as much as I do mine!
 
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