There are times in life when we all feel a bit stale. Like an old bag of chips that just wasn’t closed tight enough. The little pieces of ourselves have seemed to lose their flavor. The crunch isn’t there, we don’t bring the same little spark everywhere we go, and we are just—well—blah.
When we are in that state, it’s really really hard to create. Often, when we try, we wind up making a painting with colors that become overmixed because they’re overworked, or we stare at the fibers of a white canvas until we are so frustrated that we just go watch Netflix instead.
If we think we are inspired enough, we may rush in hoping there’s enough of that little something left in us to turn a blank canvas into something magical or at least semi-interesting. We can sit at a computer screen and watch that dang blinking cursor but no words want to come. The poetry has left us. The candle has been snuffed out. It’s horrible when you feel this way.
I’ve felt this way more times than I can count. There are several ways to try and jar yourself out of that delirium, but I want to talk about one in particular—collaboration!
I have a friend who lives an hour away, so we don’t see one another much, but when we do, man, oh, man, do the creative juices get flowing. We are writing a fantasy novel together, and truthfully, it’s going as slow as a pitiful race of snails, creative fantasy snails, I might add, but snails all the same. It’s going slow because life is very full, and stale life is so real.
What I’ve noticed is that we kind of ebb and flow at different times. Sometimes I’ll be writing away, sending her emails and text messages full of what I’m writing, ideas I’m having, or questions. Often these come to her when her life is feeling a bit blah. My creativity being shared seems to pull her out a little and bring her back into the story. She’ll do the same for me when she’s in the magical workflow and I’m up all hours of the night with a newborn. Seriously, nothing kills creativity faster than lack of sleep and crying babies (my current situation).
We really need each other. We need the perspective of someone else. We need the questions they’ll ask and the viewpoint they offer. We need their ideas and their criticism. Creating in an isolated bubble can keep us stagnant when we’re already having trouble moving. Someone else giving us a little push may be all that we need to jump right back in. I know it works for me often.
I think we live from our egos too much. We want what we are creating to be ours and only ours. We want to wow everyone and for them to say, “Look at what you’ve done. You are amazing!” and we don’t want to share it with anyone. We like that puffed up feeling more than we like what we made. We chase the high of other people’s opinions because, truthfully, we doubt our self-worth so much that we are starved for recognition. We forget that the only recognition we truly need comes from the Father, and He freaking loves you and loves everything you make. Ya know, we just need to get over ourselves.
Creating can feel like playing if we let it. It can feel like freedom and joy and honest delight. It doesn’t have to feel like striving and loneliness and toil. We can be five again. We can build time machines out of old phone parts and a tree in the yard. We can scale a mountain and look for dragons or explore caves looking for treasure. Creating can be that easy and that fun, and you should take a friend along. Let creating be an adventure that you have with someone. Explore the caves and go dragon hunting together. One of you carries the map while the other scans the skies.
Let the joy of creativity live in you again. Leave your ego at the door and grab the hand of a friend. Have a beautiful time and see what comes out of it. It may just surprise you.
Featured Image by Genessa Panainte