Creative Energy

It turns out that I only have so much creative energy in me.  The last few months I’ve wanted to do more writing for this blog and a few articles about marquetry for a magazine.  Then there are a couple of poetry collections that are stalled that I’d like to restart. It’s not that I don’t have the time – it’s winter and we’re indoors a lot.  It’s more about creative energy and it’s limits.

Since September I’ve been doing a weekly class in ekphrastic poetry.  That’s poetry written about an art work.  This class has covered a variety of forms including photos, paintings, collages, and a sculpture or two.  Each week we write a poem, workshop it with the other poets in the class and then get a new piece of art to work.  There have been twelve weeks of this.  It’s a lot of work.  

I did post one of these poems I was working on a few weeks ago.

The work is interesting, exciting, productive, grueling, exhausting and often frustrating.  It’s also been a wonderful learning experience and I feel that my poetry has grown a lot durning this course.    It’s really the process and discipline that forces me past my normal writing blocks of lack of inspiration and an excess of self-criticism.  

It takes a lot of mental and creative energy to just push and crank something out.  One thing that does help is setting the correct expectation for the work.  These aren’t polished poems and all the work brought to class is assumed to be draft quality.  Editing, polishing and perfecting the poem is work for when the class ends.

The class does take up time in the week, part of the discipline part.  There’s one night a week on zoom with the class.  This is the best part of the deal. We have a great teacher and the other poets in the class are all great poets.  Their feedback on my work is invaluable and studying their poems has taught me so much.

Writing the poem for the next class is a three step process for me: Research, reflect, write.  I don’t just look at the picture, I also read about the artist, the type of art, how it was made, when it was done and so on.  Research helps me understand the work to a deeper level and points me to my response to the work.  After all ekphrastic work is about responding to and creating an understanding of the art we’re looking at.  All of this research is just input and I like to take a few days to let everything kind of soak into my brain before I write.  Typically I can spend half a day researching.

The actual writing of the poem is usually an afternoon’s work, and often done the day before class.  There’s nothing like a deadline to get your fingers moving over a keyboard.

It’s harder to put a specific number on how much time I spend reflecting on a particular piece of art as some of that time is while washing dishes, cleaning the kitty litter, riding my exercise bike or driving around town.  But it’s this time that tends to push other projects out of my mind and when it comes time to think about say writing a blog post I find my brain simply not able to handle one more writing project.

When I started writing this blog eleven years ago, I had the goal of writing one essay style post a week.  I’ve rarely met that goal, but normally I’d manage three out of four weeks.  Since I started this class, I think I’ve done maybe one essay a month.  Oh sure, I’ve posted jokes every week along with the occasional picture of something I’ve worked on, but that kind of posting doesn’t take the same level of creative energy as an essay or a poem.

In her book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron talks about the need for creative people to, “breath in” or do things that aren’t writing but yet are restful or inspiring.  The list includes things like taking a walk in nature, visit to a museum, reading a book, gathering with other artists and so on.  I do that kind of stuff, and afterwards I “breath out” by writing.  You can only breath out and in so many times in a week without hyperventilating and passing out.

Which brings me to here, this blog. While I’ve enjoyed the writing and blogging community, it does take up creative energy that I started to feel the need to use elsewhere. I have three poetry collections I want to work on.  Two are in progress and one just a concept.  I’d like to spend more energy writing about woodworking and quilting.

To do all that I have to make changes here. I’ll still be posting things, but not as often and not the longer essays I use to do.  The biggest change that I’m thinking of is changing my writing discipline and creating new things.

Oh, I’ll still post my wisdom as that just naturally flows out of my person and from time to time there will be pictures. I do recall promising some followers of my blog more kitty pictures, but these longer essays? More like once a month.

I have been thinking of new thing I might do.  Sundays is pizza night in our house and I’m the pizza heater upper (I hate to say cook, as I just take it out the freezer, add a few things and pop it in the oven) and between waiting for the oven to heat and the pizza cook, I have a few minutes of nothing to do so why not type out a quick post of some simple thought or question in my brain.

I’m thinking of calling these posts, “As the Pizza Cooks.”

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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42 Responses to Creative Energy

  1. Fascinating post Andrew. As I was perusing this blog I can tell and imagine the type of pressure you are engulfed in and I am here to tell you that you got this, work as hard as rock as it is , it still needs to be done. I am glad that writing poems flows naturally in your system , I too in as much as blogging about Men’s fashion and style is my passion and love , some days I become stagnant but I end up publishing a post anyways

    At least there is support there from the poets in your class and All the best with other future projects👏👏

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good on you Andrew. As I often tell myself, this is a hobby not a career and sometimes we need to hit refresh. I do envy your poetry skills. Take care and just go with the flow.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Debra says:

    Sometimes we just have to get very honest with ourselves, and adapt! You have a lot of very consuming creative efforts vying for your time, so something has to shift. It makes sense, Andrew, and we will enjoy whatever you find the time to share.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Love the idea of As the Pizza Cooks 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Changes are inevitable and blogging should be fun, so do what feels right for you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dave says:

    Even though I’m not a poet, you broke ekphrastic poetry into terms I logical brain can grasp: research, reflect, write. That makes a ton of sense to me. I’d like to believe I’d understand artwork better with the same approach. BTW, the same method works with understanding architecture.

    I’ll still anticipate your musings, no matter how often. Then I’ll also know it’s pizza time in Andrew’s house. Don’t leave off the sliced olives.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The big thing I’ve learned about really understanding and appreciating an art work is to do more than just look. This process works for many things, like you say. I’ve also found it helpful in spiritual study, woodworking and even gardening.

      and I always have an ample supply of sliced olives on hand.


  7. I totally get it. Sometimes, it’s hard to get those creative juices flowing and we have to take the opportune moments we have to do so. And when creating blog posts becomes a chore instead of a pleasure, I take a little break.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. That sounds like a great use of pizza-heating time! I definitely understand what you’re saying about the extra time and creative juice required for longer blog essays. I’ll look forward to whatever you choose to post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. pommepal says:

    I’m sure you know what they say about change Andrew, it’s bound to happen. Over my 13 years blogging journey I’ve gone from obsessive daily posts using 2 blogs, following challenges, with a camera always on my shoulder and my thoughts constantly on the next post. But now it is one post a month,mainly so I can keep a record of what is happening. Leaving time for more creative activities. So I look forward to your “pizza pondering” when you have time to squeeze them into your busy, creative schedule. Wishing you health and happiness for 2023 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Looking forward to your pepperoni moments….

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Changing things up is a great idea. I read long ago that a Blog should be between 300-500 words. I’ve challenged myself to stick to around 300. At first I was long winded and felt “every word” had to be there. Then I started editing, determined to stick to 300 words. It’s good writing practice. 300 words is not much. Look forward to your new posts. January is almost here… 2023, new ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. barryh says:

    As a fellow pizza heater, sounds like a great idea!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. SusanR says:

    Don’t stifle that wisdom when it wants to flow. Wouldn’t want it to get clogged up.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Your life has changed a lot, Andrew. No surprise the blog would too. I love your quick posts so no argument from me!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I certainly understand your creative dilemmas. I, myself, have been going through the same thing. I am in the process of taking the month of December off so that I can regroup and come up with something that will satisfy both my professional creative life as well as my personal creative life. Without one, the other suffers.

    The unseen idea of creativity takes more out of us than we or others may realize. I look back at my days on the woodworking website where I wrote over 1800 blog posts – one each day for around five years – to start my day, and I seriously don’t know how I was able to do it. I am struggling with the “once a week” goal even. It seems if I am actually creating, I don’t find the time to document what I am doing. If I am not in a creative mode and doing more production work (cutting wood), then there is little to write about.

    Quality writing takes time. Quality ANYTHING takes time usually. I am glad you are not giving us up altogether, as I look forward to seeing what you are working on. I am happy I followed you here and feel you are a wonderful inspiration.

    For me – it is all about trial and error. LOTS of errors. But eventually, we settle into what will work for us. I know I will be here no matter what you decide. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  16. jfwknifton says:

    Yes, blogging isn’t a job. You must write the blog posts that you want to.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. HI Andew, the poetry course sounds wonderful. How nice for you. As for blogging, it should always be as it suits you and your lifestyle. Blogging is supposed to be fun.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Sounds good. I agree that you should devote more time to your creative arts. That’s our true gift — to have and to give, I think!

    Liked by 2 people

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