"Ours is a stimulating world -- often an overstimulating one...we have our families, our friends, our jobs, and our other pursuits -- all potential sources of stress and sensory overload...If "still waters run deep," the noisy rapids of our lives make it hard to be anything but shallow. Our deeper selves are muffled, overtaxed, and overextended. Our sensibilities are stripped of their fine tuning. We become numb to our own responses and reactions. Life is "too much" for many of us...
Our energies are drained not by coping with our output of creative energy but from coping with the ceaseless inflow of distractions and distresses that bid for our time, attention, and emotional involvement. As artists, we are great listeners, and as the volume is pitched too high, our inner ear and our inner work suffers.
When a creative artist is fatigued, it is often from too much inflow, not too much outflow. When we are making something, we are listening to an inner voice that has many things to tell us -- if we will listen. It is hard to listen amid the chatter. It is hard to listen amid chaos. It is hard to listen amid the static of ungrounded and demanding energy.
Contrary to mythology about us, artists are generous, often overly generous. We listen to others deeply, sometimes too deeply for our own good. We are susceptible to their hurt feelings and their pouting when we withdraw, and so sometimes we do listen to them even as our creative energy ebbs out of our own life and into theirs. This creates exhaustion, irritation, and, finally, rage.
It's not that we are unwilling to share our time and attention. It is that people must give us the courtesy of listening accurately to our needs about when and how we can do it...We have the right to determine along what lines we want our energies to flow. For this reason, we may need to draw more boundaries than many people, and those who love us must be conscious that unless they can respect this, they are not a friend at all.
As artists, our inflow level must be kept manageable and we must "train" our friends and families and colleagues at work when and how we need our space, both physical and psychic...
This is why busy executives have secretaries -- to monitor their inflow and keep it from becoming overwhelming to their creative process...
Virginia Woolf said all artists need a room of their own...
An artist requires solitude and quiet -- which is different from solemnity and isolation. Artists require respect for their thoughts and their process, but that respect must start with us. An artist needs to be treated well -- but often we are the ones who must begin that treatment, and one way we do it is by carefully setting our own valve on how much inflow is allowed to come into us."
- Chapter 6: Discovering a Sense of Boundaries, Walking In This World
The above is taken from Julia Cameron's wonderful book Walking In This World: The Practical Art of Creativity. I had the opportunity to read and "work through" this book with a group of fellow artists while we were performing in Shanghai, China in 2009.
Julia's world-view and musings on the creative artist's mind have truly changed my life. She writes incredibly honest and nuturing books on creativity.
If you like what you read above and would like to find out more, please check out her website and find something that speaks to you. Pick up a copy or download it to your phone/computer/iPad/Kindle. Her words will help you to enrich your enjoyment of your own creative process...guaranteed.
Be courageous. Speak up for yourself. Nurture your inner artist. Set the boundaries you need.
The crazy-makers will get pissed-off...and those who truly love you will understand.