Surfing the creative energy flow
I am busy, very busy. Too busy maybe? Sometimes I cut back on drinking so that I don’t have to stop to go to the toilet during the day. That’s crazy but maybe you have done the same?
Even though I have way to many deadlines today to be writing this I feel compelled because what I am about to write about permeates every inch of my life, shapes my character and is responsible for both my moments of manic genius and weeks of slow, pained drudgery. What I am talking about is chemistry, my chemistry, those little molecules that whizz around my brain cells, through my arms and up and down my spine.
I only realised that I could be creative and a scientist a few years ago. Up until that point I had believed that only ‘artists’ were creative and as I was a scientist creativity was lost to me.
I tried to rationalise everything (like a scientist), put things into boxes (even though I personally hate boxes, routine, sameness and generally anything to do with looking and feeling organised) and fit in with what was expected. I thought that if I could only get my shit together (sorry) I would be awesome Amanda all of the time and that my crashes in energy and enthusiasm were consequences of over doing it, being out of balance and not taking care of myself. I thought that I was the problem. I now know that was only part it.
The creative flow (or gush) that is essential to my life as a consultant doesn’t trickle through my life-like a reliable, patient and deep river, more it thunders through with a force that knocks your socks off like low land that’s been caught off guard by flash flooding. There seems to be no knowing ahead of time how high it will run, what it will bring with it and how long it will take to subside but when it does you can be sure that what is underneath will remain permanently changed by it. And then there are the slow times, the times when the creek runs down to a trickle, a collection of small pools some supporting life and some all-but-faded away. During those times it requires much effort to keep swimming, during the tempest it is as much as one can do to stay afloat.
I have learned and continue learning how to enjoy my creative process and how to recognise and plan for the feasts and the famines. I have accepted both states and have stopped fighting against what clearly works for me and have instead put my energy into ways that I can capitalise emotionally, physically and practically from this turbulent journey while still fulfilling my daily duties as a mum, business owner and individual.
Work wise it has been important for me to recognise this and to try to build a team or framework around me that can support and compliment that. There are many types of people in the world and energy swinging creatives are not the type you want a lot of in a business – sure they will create masses of opportunity for you but you need about 3 cleaner-uppers to every one ‘yes but this is a GREAT idea’ person. That is costly. What I’ve needed most are worker bees, strong and confident thinkers who can tap the crazed me on the shoulder and say ‘yes but what about this’ and ‘don’t forget that deadline’ etc. The kind of people who keep you on the straight and narrow. I need enthusiastic self-directed learners who pick up on the buzz and feel inspired rather than intimidated, who look for adventures rather than guidance – the kind of people who I was when I started out I guess…….
My creative highs and lows are manageable in a business that makes its money from designing formulations, recipes and brand identities, trouble shooting and offering technical guidance only because the other part of the business makes money from turning up and doing what it says on the tin, for performing a set routine of tasks and for ticking boxes. When all is well the two complement each other perfectly and business flows but that doesn’t mean it is always easy for me, that is COMES easily. It doesn’t.
As a business owner I have to put my own personal ‘in touch with my energy flow’ stuff aside every day to keep focused on the big picture, to Direct the ship. I can’t lie to you, this is sometimes painful and often exhausting. I sometimes have to front up when I’m physically and emotionally spent after being up all night chasing a creative hunch or trying to figure out how to fix something that didn’t quite work out while all the time knowing that the customer wanted it YESTERDAY. I’m not naive to the fact that this happens in every business, every ‘grown-up’s’ life but that doesn’t make it feel any easier, it just helps me accept it I guess.
I am fortunate enough to share space on many people’s business journey, maybe even yours, and that is why I am writing this. I see and hear stories from women (especially women but not always) about how they feel out-of-control, spent, tired all of the time, exhausted, emotionally wrecked because of (or in spite of ) their business ventures. I am writing this because I am capable, I do keep things rolling, I have great stamina and can switch off my temporary pain for long-term gain and I am away that from the outside this might look like I’ve always got my shit together. I want you to know that yes I do but that no, I don’t have some magical power that makes it easy. I fall and I fall and I fall. I just keep getting up even if I don’t really know why.
I’ve learned to accept my creative energy flow and the consequences of it (although I don’t always like it and often find the swings have bad timing)- that I am not always able to deliver when I said I would, that I sometimes can’t answer my phone and be distracted as my head is elsewhere, that I have to get away from it all at times, that I need good people around me, that I am not superwoman, that I need sleep – and am committed to my mission to become the master of that flow so that no drop of precious creative energy is lost or mis-directed.
I guess that I just wanted to put it out there that I feel creative energy flow, highs and lows, personal enthusiasm levels ebb and flow in a business and as far as I can see it is perfectly normal but it does sort of go against what is needed in a business. The best advice I can offer is that if you have a tendency to feel like that get help somehow so that you can still remain financially productive even when your creative fairies are having a party in someone else’s head!
Stay safe people and remember that we are all crazy.