The dog days of August are upon me and I’m inspired – to do absolutely nothing!
I have the novel-in-progress waiting for my return, and a couple of art projects – also waiting. I started a poem and gave it up. It’s been almost a month since I’ve posted anything here and my website still isn’t finished.
Do I feel guilty? Not at all.
A friend from Los Angeles, an actress/writer/director called over the weekend and lamented her lack of motivation to do anything, complicated by personal things adding to the inertia. She was in that “I don’t think I’ll ever create anything again” place that’s a very dark place for anyone in the business of creating – writers, musicians, artists and all the rest.
(I wonder – if a chef can’t think of anything to cook for dinner does he think he’ll never cook again?)
My advice to my friend was to give herself a sabbatical. And it’s my advice to you, too, if the summer doldrums have hit – or when the autumn, winter, spring doldrums catch up with you.
This is not an excuse to procrastinate forever with your creative work. It’s just a way of acknowledging that while there are dynamos who never stop for a minute, we’re not them.
And here’s the thing: unless you spend your sabbatical locked in a closet (please don’t do that), it will give you experiences and people and ideas you can incorporate into your work when you get back to it. You might be surprised.
I mentioned something recently to another creative friend, something I do in my everyday life that I’ve never thought twice about, but she saw it as a great possibility for an odd character in my novel (okay, I’m odd). She laughed and said, “You have to put that in the book.” So maybe I will. It didn’t seem that odd to me, but hey, if it made someone laugh…
The other thing about the sabbatical is that it will end – they always do – and you’ll get back to your work. The muse is never far away. In fact, if you’re on the beach or by a pool in the August heat as you read this, your muse is no doubt on the next lounge chair or beach towel sipping a margarita and getting a nice tan.
We do have to be diligent about our work but we don’t have to put on hair shirts or whack ourselves with a two by four if we don’t keep up our work schedules all the time.
However, if you’ve received a generous advance (do these still exist?) and have a deadline, no sabbatical for you. You’d better put down that margarita and get cracking. For the rest of us, please pass the salt and the suntan lotion.