Finding Creativity in the Slowness

Taking it slow comes in waves.

For the past several weeks, I’ve felt unmotivated in my business. I meet client deadlines, and that’s about it.

Some days I feel okay about this, letting myself get lost in the constant changes of van life and exploring the country. But other days I feel like a complete and total failure. My side projects have stopped fulfilling me, new projects just can’t come together, and I wonder if I’m letting my business stall right after takeoff. I haven’t even touched my journal in weeks.

But at the end of the day, how I feel is how I feel. Being hard on myself doesn’t give me motivation and it certainly doesn’t make me want to spend more time behind my laptop.

What about discipline? What about showing up for my business day in and day out, no matter how I feel?

Frankly, that doesn’t work for me. I didn’t go into business for myself so I could hold a level of productivity that is incompatible with my brain. I didn’t make myself my own boss so I could yell at myself all the time. And I certainly didn’t start this journey so I could work a full eight hours a day.

The standards of productivity we’re fed in a capitalistic world are unrealistic and unhealthy. We’re not meant to work all the time. People are not meant to spend their days locked in a concrete and glass cage, moving from seat to seat.

In her book Upstream, Mary Oliver talks about the challenges of a creative brain. She talks about the necessity of routine, of coming back to a creative space with regularity. The days I feel most like a failure are the ones I lament my lack of routine or schedule. But she also talks about the fleetingness of creativity, how inspiration comes in bursts with no regard for a schedule or a clock. She confesses she needs long hours of solitude in the woods, to let herself be immersed in nature.

“No doubt clocks are ticking loudly all over the world. I don’t hear them.” (Softest of Mornings)

And I remind myself – routine is necessary, but so is freedom. A creative brain needs space to run, roam, explore, to stick its hands into the dirt and play.

There is no goal for this summer, or indeed for this chapter of my life, beyond experience. Enjoying. Absorbing. I have to come back to this time and time again, to remember that my business is my own and my path to success is mine alone. It will not look like someone else’s, even someone I admire.

Perhaps the feeling of demotivation is not a sign of some kind of failure or impending business doom. Perhaps it is a sign that I need to step back even further, carve out entire days off where I can wander in the hot sun, stick my feet in the cool stream. I want to lounge under big trees with long books and let the hours of the day pass me by.

Perhaps it is a sign that I need less, not more right now. That business expansion, a roster of new clients and writers to manage is not what I need – certainly not what I want.

On the days that I feel good about it, contentedness takes over. And oh – what a pleasure it is to feel content. To look around me and not want for anything. It is, like all emotions, fleeting but perhaps I can use this time to practice tapping back into it.

I continue to sit with this. I meditate. I read. I take it slow regardless of how I feel and remember that everything will pass. For now, all I can do is stay present.

Presence this weekend takes me further inland from the Maine coast, making my way west to the mountains. It is hot, humid, and buggy but I enjoy it nonetheless. I love the ocean, but these coastal towns are swarmed with people and I need more solitude. (Plus it makes parking for the van very challenging.) I lean into the long weeks ahead and revel in just how big the state of Maine is.

Published by Jessica Reilly, Writer

Writer, cannabis aficionado, and poetry lover

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