Magpie Speak: Managing the Crazy
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Managing the Crazy
Creative personalities are often a little bit up and down. We struggle with depression. The highs and lows of the creative cycle toss us around. We at once need creative input, and shirk from being over-stimulated. Â
I believe creative people see things differently. Sometimes this makes you feel a bit mad. The key is to manage the crazy, so the madness becomes an asset.
Once while talking with my amazing life coach, Jena Strong, I mused out loud:
â€œI wonder what it would be like to be even-keeled?â€
To which she immediately replied:
â€œWhy would you even wonder about that?â€
Clearly, I am never going to be even keeled. Why waste energy wanting it to be otherwise? I might as well turn it into a super power.
Managing the Crazy is a big field of study. In my book, it includes Abundance -vs- Jealousy, Seasonal Patterns, HSC Power Moves,Â and Confidence Schizophrenia. But for today, weâ€™ll look at what I consider to be the bedrock concept you need to Manage the Crazy, the Creative Cycle.
Understanding Your Creative Cycle
Over the years Iâ€™ve noticed that most creative people have a pattern to their work. Whether you paint, plant churches, or launch a businesses â€“ this birth cycle will be familiar to you. Just being able to recognizing the stages is a good first step towards feeling less nuts in the midst of it.
The Creative Download
Â In this stage you are full of ideas. You might make lots of lists, or wake up in the middle of the night with plans running through your head. This often fluctuates with the seasons, or even with the stars. (I usually experience a download when the Winter turns into Spring, and again when the kids go back to school in the Fall.)
Common Emotions: excitement, euphoria, anticipation, panic, anxiety.Â
Handy Mantra: Â â€œThe Right Thing will come at the Right Time.â€
Â At this point you have do some soulwork in order to decide which of your gazillion projects you want to lay your hand to. You may be tempted to rush past this important step â€“ especially if you are the parent of young children, or if you are working full-time while also pursuing your creative projects. The idea that you are â€œwasting timeâ€ can loom large in this stage. You may feel pressure to just get started on something. Yet it is essential that you spend time playing with your various ideas â€“ researching what youâ€™d need to execute them; checking out how others have done similar work; and doing some preliminary â€œsketchesâ€ and tests. Â Itâ€™s also important to learn how to redefine â€œfailureâ€ as â€œthe learning process.â€ Â (More on that at some future date.)
Common Emotions: confusion, flip-floppiness, curiosity
Handy Mantra: â€œNothing is Ever Wasted.â€
Anyone who has given birth knows this is when the hard work really kicks in. (Well, actually, what they donâ€™t tell you is that the hard part is the NEXT FIVE-TO-EIGHTEEN YEARSâ€¦. But I digress.) To push the birth metaphor a little further, this stage is when you have to stop decorating your dream nursery and get to the dirty work. Now you actually have to write/paint/learn how to use your camera/show you work/accepting critique/attach price tags. This is where people often get stuck. Youâ€™ll need doulas and midwives, and quite possibly, cheerleaders. If you can get well into this stage, youâ€™re mostly there.
Common Emotions: excitement, fear, resistance, doubt, confidence, impatience, anticipation
Handy Mantra: â€œOne Step at a Time.â€
In this stage youâ€™ve got the bulk of the work done. You are probably in the final edits; or you are waiting for the last piece of artwork to get finished; or you need to overcome one more technical difficulty. Some people are great finishers. But a lot of creative souls flounder here. The end is almost in sight â€“ and then you get stuck in a slow motion run to the finish. Â If you follow me on Twitter, you can tell Iâ€™m in the Finishing stage when I threaten to never, ever write again. (I am not a good finisher.) If that sounds familiar, you probably need a partner who is good at the final stretch. Other helpful things include: detailed lists of whatâ€™s left, rewarding yourself for getting bits done, and a solid due date or deadline.
Common Emotions: despair, befuddlement, reluctance (Sorry, I couldnâ€™t think of any positive ones here. Maybe you can?)
Handy Mantra: â€œBreathe the next breath. Write the next line.â€
Post Partum Depression
Actually, thereâ€™s another stage before this, The Launch â€“ in which you actually give your gift to the world. But thatâ€™s usually pretty euphoric. (Are you saying, â€œAu contraire?â€ Tell me all about it so we can grow the pool of wisdom!)
Weâ€™ll skip ahead to the bit just after the birth, where your project is out there in the world. Itâ€™s probably getting a lot of nice things said about it. Maybe itâ€™s getting some criticism as well. But overall I bet itâ€™s going pretty well.
So, why are you so depressed?Â
Itâ€™s the hormone stew. In the past weeks/months/years youâ€™ve been up, youâ€™ve been down. Youâ€™ve put your soul into something â€“ and probably your free time and money to boot. Youâ€™ve risked. Youâ€™ve cried. Youâ€™ve celebrated. Your emotions have been all over the place. And youâ€™re probably a little worn out to boot. Itâ€™s okay. That bubbling pot of postpartum hormone stew will slow to a simmer. Things will settle down eventually.
Common Emotions: feeling â€œlet downâ€ or lost, vague disappointment, itching for the next thing (but what?)
Handy Mantra: â€œThis Too Shall Passâ€
This stage can actually come at various places in this cycle. Sometimes it is quite subtle, but itâ€™s an important part of the process. Smart farmers know that you need to let the land go uncultivated from time to time. A field might be covered with a layer of compost for a growing season. Or it could be planted with a cover crop which when plowed under puts nutrients back into the soil. Our creative growing cycles need fallow time as well.
Common Emotions: â€œlaziness,â€ a desire for rest, â€œmindlessâ€ entertainment, hermit-y-ness
Handy Mantra: â€œHonoring the needÂ for rest is good for creative recovery.â€
Which stages of the cycle stand out for you? How do you manage them? Do you have other stages that arenâ€™t listed here? Tell us more, and add to our giant pool of wisdom.