Seeking Creative Rest

Empty wooden char facing a bright window surrounded by curtains looking out to a snowy scene.

I successfully defended my dissertation a few weeks ago.

I am now “Doctor.”

The defense went wonderfully, and it was a really positive end to a very long… experience. (I hate the word “journey” when used to describe doctoral programs.)

I thought after I finished my dissertation, I would have a lot more time to really dig into artmaking. The writing is done, the editing is done, the paperwork is done—time to make art, right?

Not quite.

I was making art while I was reading and writing my dissertation, but most of the projects didn’t get finished. I was working on them bit by bit.

Once the written dissertation was essentially done, I turned my attention to artmaking and finishing the pieces. It felt like I was making art nonstop. One project couldn’t be completed until the day of my defense, but I finished everything else in late December.

And since then, I’ve felt creatively spent. Exhausted.

I said to some friends, “If my creativity were a pond, the pond would be covered in scum and the fish would be dead from lack of oxygen.”

I decided to give myself a season of creative rest. Three months—January, February, and March without feeling any pressure to make anything.

I also decided to implement Julia Cameron’s idea of artist dates. The idea is that once a week, for an hour or two, you go out—solo—and do something fun. It doesn’t have to be artsy, or even “creative.” It’s meant to be something fun to do.

My goal, now that my defense is done, is to go on one artist date a week. We’ll see if I can keep this up and carve out time for this replenishment in my season of creative rest.

I’m halfway through my Season of Creative Rest, and… I’m still feeling creatively spent.

There’s a tiny bit of me that’s worried this won’t work.

What happens if my creative well stays dry?

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