After reading The Writer’s Midwife’s post about factors which have facilitated and inhibited her own creative process, I was inspired to think through my own situation. I’ve put some thought into this question as I’ve been working through Jane Anne Staw’s book, “Unstuck”; however, I’ve found that it’s helpful to re-evaluate what is working and what isn’t working in one’s creative life periodically, and/or as circumstances in one’s life change.
Quite recently, I made a commitment to my creative process in general and my academic work in particular. I decided to establish a daily writing routine, but I opted to limit my writing time to 15 minutes per day (in order to reduce feelings of anxiety and overwhelm, as per Staw’s advice). I’ve been pretty successful with this so far; since starting on June 10th, I’ve only missed two days. I’ve managed to do this while working 4-5 shifts per week, keeping up with daily exercise, and transcribing data almost every day as well. I’ve actually started to look forward to writing these days; now that I’m no longer taking so much on at a time, I feel less anxious, I’m less likely to procrastinate, and I’ve learned that I can be there for myself. Once I get going, I find that I often write for longer than 15 minutes, and the feelings of success multiply!
That being said, some days it’s still a struggle, and I’d benefit from taking a closer look at what’s working, what isn’t, and figure out how I can deal with the issues which still remain.
I alluded to Virgina Woolfe’s “A Room of One’s Own” in the title of this post because I find the truth of her claims to be self-evident on days like today, when I struggle to find the physical and mental space I require to connect with my Muse. As in the past, lately I’ve found that I can only encounter this space if I “run away from home” and leave it’s chaos and comforts behind. What’s changed is that these days, it’s a place of relative disorder rather than pleasure or luxury (or two students’/would-be professionals’ approximation thereof); although I’m sure that if I lived on my own I’d drive myself crazy in no time, but living with room-mates who have different lifestyles has proven to be challenging over the years. Until I’m taking in the income of an actual professional, I can’t really do much more than I have to address the situation using interpersonal strategies; at this point, I’m opting for avoidance. Fortunately, I do have other places I can go that have afforded me some space in which I can write: a library and a cafe, which are both within skateboarding distance from my home. Since these are public spaces, I don’t really have any more authority to control the conditions than I do at home. However, since the library is intended to be a work place; it’s gloriously quiet today, which seems to have relieved my anxiety. I’ve found that the cafe can be a great place to work if I’m feeling lethargic; the energy of the people who work in the adjacent building can be motivating (although on days like today, when I’m already quite anxious, the movements and talk of the people who gather there on their breaks can set me even more on edge).