That which flows can also ebb, and probably will. There’s a natural cycle in all things that means patterns of scarcity and abundance are to be expected. I think one of the problems with people is that we’re obsessed with avoiding the scarcity, and this causes us to put vast pressure on natural systems. We should not expect to have abundance of all things at all times. At the same time we have a cultural scarcity narrative, that resources generally are in short supply and we have to compete and acquire or we’ll really suffer the scarcity. If scarcity isn’t a disaster, or seen as one, life is gentler. So long as we don’t have scarcity around truly essential things for long stretches, all is well.
In June, you can have an abundance of strawberries, and in November you can have an abundance of sloes. It’s trying to have everything all the time that causes the trouble.
So, after that long pre-amble, how does this relate to inspiration? Why should inspiration be finite like a natural strawberry season? Why can’t I expect to be full on creative all day every day? There have been times in my life when I could turn out a vast amount of book in an ongoing way, but the days of writing a novel in 6 weeks are long gone, and I don’t really want them back.
Nature has cycles. Ebbs and flows. Times of flourishing and times of decay. Times of incubating and waiting, and sleeping. Times of doing. Push for nothing but growth all the time, and there will be a rebalancing backlash.
I think I hit one of those this summer, when my personal creativity hit an all time low and stayed at rock bottom for several months. It takes time to gestate ideas and to find things that inspire. Without the time to daydream and imagine, there is no soil for a story to take root in. I’m not a machine, it does not work for me to try and pop out a story at regular intervals. I need the room for a more organic process.
I have also identified the need to look at the wider cycles and tides in my creativity. There’s no point expecting to eat strawberries if you haven’t planted a strawberry bed. There is no blackberry jam without foraging. If the gestation time, the seed in the soil isn’t looked after, what can possibly grow? So I’m making more time for doing nothing, and for doing the things that inspire me. If you don’t tend to the whole cycle, it’s not realistic to expect one bit of it to work well. I am not a cog, the world is not a machine. And even if it was, it would need oiling.