This post works through a difficult week of crashing into unwellness to find a way back to creativity, and perhaps a way to safeguard creative practice for future.
I am not quite sure why the crash happened, perhaps overdoing it with a combination of the recent heatwave, 10-mile hike with Dad, throwing an allotment party, and my tendency to get overexcited like a toddler (until I wail and fall asleep face down in the carpet.) Or perhaps I just got sick…
If I had been paying attention, it might have been avoidable. Last Saturday’s comic diary already suggests that I might have been overtired, as I wailed through ‘Saving Mr Banks’ – a movie that is not even sad,
On Monday morning I did the ‘non-doing practice’ as usual with the intention of creating something afterwards. The practice only suggested the need to sleep and so I created sleep – lots and lots of sleep for days afterwards. Still, I did manage to draw something for my comics diary on Monday, although I had forgotten about this until now,
Looking back, I managed to do a diary entry everyday (despite) and this might be worth celebrating, even if the cartoons are not (in particular the Tuesday cartoon with the obvious visual metaphor of me as a talking turd feeling ‘pooped’ which I will spare this post). I also managed to draw bird cartoons (Simone’s daily task) for 3 days out of the 5 days. It might be useful to hold onto these easily forgotten tiny successes – to remember to be proud of the wee victories.
This week I am most proud that I continued to run. Running is my ‘special impossible possible’ as a non-sporty person, and the surprising new habit of 2020. I run on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for half an hour or so. This week, I ran sick, miserable, and in the pouring rain – and this was the one thing that made me feel that I had worth. What makes this easier is that it is a habit that does not get questioned. It is just done. Habits are sustaining, so it is a good idea to build habits that make you feel proud. The creative habit is still not quite there, so it is easy to let this slide. Note, it is important to build this sustaining creative habit for future in an achievable way, so that it always happens no matter.
Another future concern is that it is problematic to create (or indeed function) without well-being, so well-being needs to be intrinsic for workshops, activities, and creative practice. This roams perhaps into therapy (Roger warns me about this) and it would be nice to skip directly to the fun, but perhaps this is not possible. The Positive Group suggests that creative thinking is impossible without well-being, which is perhaps one of their many reasons for prioritising well-being first. Nevertheless, adults are responsible for managing their own well-being, and as my research is for Higher Education level, perhaps this lessens the load a little.
The trouble with the ‘crash’ is that it happens in the dark and it is difficult to think sensibly after this point. I wrote about the crash in my journal as, ‘unsettling darkness and stupidity where we live in the dark and forget where the light switch is – like the Douglas Adams’ joke about the man who had always thought he was blind and then one day discovered that his hat was too big’ – luckily we do usually just feel better and we rediscover the light.
I particularly appreciate how humour often appears as a salve even in rambling writing about crashing into darkness. Writing this journal is very helpful for noticing and safeguarding well-being. Of course, I avoid it (particularly when struggling) because it is exhausting dealing with personal issues. Still, resistance is futile – like pushing at a pull door,
Thank you for this cartoon Gary Larson! Thanks also to Mel Calman for his autobiographical story about his failure to enter the interview room for a place at Cambridge University for the same reason (he ended up studying illustration instead – luckily for British cartooning).
I created yesterday’s comics diary entry in front of the telly just before bed with the comforting bland nonsense of Midsummer’s Murders in the background. It happened almost subconsciously (‘I sometimes think my subconscious has a mind of its own’ – great Alexei Sayle joke!), yet it is surprisingly revealing. It illustrates the ongoing crash, but also neglected ideas, as they also crash and splinter on the floor. This is a reminder of discovering many neglected breakdowns for cartoons and strips this week. My study is full of unfinished ideas – some good, some bad, but mostly forgotten. It occurs to me now that much of my intellectual frazzle is a result of being overwhelmed by ideas,
Quick thoughts for future safeguarding of creative practice:
- pay attention to well-being in journal writing and prioritise it
- develop an easy self-sustaining creative habit
- finish ideas – and work on only one idea at a time. Sit and work with this idea until it is finished.