A conversation on one of our community calls for The Writer’s Circle (a wonderful group I’ve been involved with for a long time now, which supports me in my writing habit and process) got me thinking about how difficult it can be to truly own and set boundaries around our creative space.
What do I mean by creative space? I mean physical space, yes, but also mental, emotional and spiritual space. Psychological space. And that space means our own energy as well.
From the time I was a little girl, I liked to go off by myself with a big pad of paper and a pencil and write and draw. I also liked to sit by myself — sometimes on our front porch — and talk out loud, making up stories, creating characters and acting out all the roles. Although I often organized neighborhood kids into plays and skits and “pretend movies”, I had a deep need to spend much of my “creating time” in my own company, with no one else around.
This is still true for me. Being solely in my own company (and spending time with animals or in nature) is part and parcel to my writing process, just as my writing process is part and parcel to knowing and understanding myself, and knowing and understanding myself informs what I want to write and what I choose to do with my life.
Geesh, what a cycle! See how it’s all connected?
So, I can’t “just let go of” time alone — daydreamy, musing, reflective time spent in solitude — without letting go of a vital part of the organism that is my functioning life.
And along with that, I can’t “just let go of” my actual writing time, where I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.
But, as we discussed on our Writer’s Circle call, how challenging it can be to set boundaries around this sacred creative space on a daily basis!
Recently I had family visiting, and I noticed acutely (again) how I cannot “just shift” from socializing to writing, or socializing to reflecting time. I need to transition from one to the other.
This need for transitions, though, is a blessing. It is the transitioning that allows us to reinforce our boundaries around our creative space and creative energy.
For example, when I sat down to write this blog post, I did not “just sit down and start writing.” I first told my boyfriend, “Okay, I’m going to go work on a blog post now,” and I went into the next room to be away from his energy and more in my own. Then, I took a few deep breaths at my desk. And then I read a couple of blog posts by writers whose voices I love.
This all took only a few minutes, but within this transition space, I respected and protected my creative blog-writing space and energy.
Similarly, when I had family visiting last month, after spending most of the morning with my brother and his girlfriend, I didn’t “just” sit down and work on the presentation I had coming up. I told them I was going to the library for a while, gathered up my things, walked the two blocks to the library (walking is a great way to transition from one energetic space to another) and sat in a corner cubicle in the cool, quiet library environment. I took a few deep breaths, and starting in on writing notes for my presentation.
Taking note of how we will transition from “social space” to “creative space” is a great way to put solid boundaries around our solitary creating time, space, and energy.
Karla McLaren, in her wonderful book “The Art of Empathy,” calls this “thresholding.” She gives the example of actors who move from the state of being backstage, with others bustling around them, to actually being onstage, in the performance space. Anyone who’s performed on a stage of any kind knows there is quite a transition from being backstage to being onstage, and very quickly you go from one type of energy to another. It’s awareness and respect for the threshold that allows this transition.
Try this: Think about how you might create protective, supportive rituals and routines that act as boundaries around your creative energy and space. My walk for my morning coffee always puts me into “reflective, creative mode”, which is like tapping my writer self on the shoulder and whispering, “Hey — we’re going to be putting words on paper in a little bit.”
In Part Two of this post, we’ll talk about how we can own our right to our creative energy and space, especially when it’s challenged by others around us.
What about you? How do you set boundaries around your creative space, time, and energy?