A Creative Time Out

A guest post by Stephey Baker.

How do you know when you’re procrastinating completing a project (or reaching a goal) verses when you need to indulge a creative time out by creating nothing but rest from the creative process all together?

The answer to this question eluded me during my early years as an artist. During that time, I often felt victimized by creative blackmail the Muse employed frequently.

Her threat was to leave me suffering creative constipation from artist’s block. I lived in fear of this threat, which often drove me to exhaustion by over working myself.

I can remember feeling a sense of urgency to drop what I was doing in order to fulfill the presented idea. If I didn’t take immediate action, the inspiration would be lost forever because I didn’t catch it or seize the urgent moment. I use to lovingly refer to myself as being the muse’s bitch during that time.

It was a time of creative enslavement.

Freedom came only after the realization I hated feeling held hostage creatively to, well, my creative process. This is when everything turned around. I began to create differently.

I created a new creative process, one that allowed rest and supported engaging other aspects of life – off the blank page.

Is your creative process currently working for you? Are you satisfied with your creations on and off the page? If so, what is working? If not, what needs refinement? What could you change? How could you create differently while bringing your vision to completion?

As an artist, if an idea isn’t working in paint or photography I simply rework it until, well, it WORKS. Often times the finished piece is better than originally envisioned. Have you experienced this within your creations?

Most people don’t finish what they start.

Do you give up on your ideas before realized or do you stay with them, going the distance until realization is yours? I stay with it. I’m devoted to bringing ideas to fruition until the concept is complete. Sometimes this means choosing to ditch the project all together and starting from scratch or deciding to move onto a different project all together. As Kenny Rodgers says, “You got to know when to hold ‘em and know when to walk away.”

As the creator I have control over the when it is complete and the how (the process) it is completed (so do you). The process is no different in creating the LIFE you truly desire.

If something in your life isn’t working and you find yourself wanting more time or sleep then rework your choices. Take a creative time out.

Create your masterpiece called life INCLUDING the process in which to create it.

I began saying no to late night art binges and yes to sleep. I began saying no to anxiety and the fear that I must create it NOW or ELSE and yes to trust. I began to trust that the fields of inspiration are real and as an artist, I know where they are (you know where they are too) and how to reap the fruits of their visions.

I realized I served creativity better when creating creative time outs.

Are you feeling frustrated with your creations? Your LIFE? Do you feel held hostage creatively to your creative process? If so, remember, as an artist who is busy creating a LIFE, you can choose to rework your choices until your LIFE is working for you. Remind your self that often times the finished piece isn’t what you originally envisioned – it’s so much more!

Take a creative time out and embrace the life you never planned on.

Stephey Baker is a witty transcendentalist artist and writer. Her Muse tutored her to employ art and the creative process not only to craft conceptual works of art, graphic design, and photography, but to navigate the highs and lows of life. This use of art and creativity as life process led her to pursue a degree in spiritual counseling. Stephey teaches the art of creative living. She offers inspirational, one-on-one and group, support to create the life one desires.

21 thoughts on “A Creative Time Out

  1. I learned the importance of rests the hard way (am still learning)–work til exhausted, keep working, get very sick and have to take a break and do absolutely nothing for a few days.

    Then I learned burnout from being hyper-focused on one project and then not even wanting to think about it when I was done.

    My creative time-outs, these days, are switching gears: I don’t like not being busy so I have multiple irons in multiple fires. It prevents burnout and the small gaps between projects allow me to step back and take breaks as needed.

    1. Me too! I so learned the hard way and momma what a crazy ride – a ride I truly don’t want to create or get all strung-out on again.

      I love that you expressed burn out from being “Hyper-Focused” this is so spot on! I’ve felt completely drained, as if out in the sun all day long, from being in the Muse’s embrace and drink’n her kool-aid of inspiration.

      I learned that too much creation turns on itself and moves into destruction. It’s the yin-yang of creation vs destruction each has a signifiant part in the whole but needs discernment and to be tempered with grace and mindfulness. That can be a whole other post within itself don’t you think? How it’s important to know when to create the ending of something verses creating a new.

      I make fun at blaming my Muse for driving me to exhaustion but it’s not her fault. It was a lesson she was teaching me and momma I was in it! I was being skooled w/the point that balance, trust and tending to my life as a whole was needing to be mastered else I too fall sick – which of course I did on and off during those learning years.

      Thank you so much for sharing your insights and struggles as a creator! Cheers! To taking a step back and lots of balanced healthy projects – especially our biggest one – living LIFE.

    1. Hi Diane! I’ve never listened to Elizabeth Gilbert on Ted – but I’ll check out the link.

      I’ve never had a problem with LACK of inspiration (knock on wood :). I’ve had a challenge with being hosed down by the fire hose of inspiration (tooooo much inspiration) and allowing that to drive me to exhaustion. I use to think if I didn’t engage my muse when she said when and how (which was all the freak’n time) I’d be sorry….it was during this time I definitely was her slave. Now I realize the relationship is collaborative and requires me to know my limitations and keep balance as part of my daily creations. I’ve realized it’s th only way to move beyond that suffering artist type into a thriving artist!

      Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts & link!

  2. Such a fantastic idea – one that is simple enough for many of us to miss. I have had many times where I felt the NEED to create something, but … it just wasn’t there. I think I need more creative time outs :)

    1. Hi Victoria!

      You’re right! Perhaps that nudge to create something is a nudge to create space, to create rest, and to create calm perhaps it’s the need to create nothing that we often over look as, well, creating something. So glad you liked the post thank you for taking time out to share your insights!

      Peace to you!

  3. Great post! I definitely need to create space for more time outs and really like the idea of a holistic approach to creativity. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I know I’ve felt overwhelmed by creativity and the fear can get to me, but I’ve found that rather than a “creative time out” (I love the term) I need to take a step back and take stock of where I am. I usually need to lower my expectations and to accept myself for who and what I am. Maybe it’s similar to your idea. With a different twist.

    1. Kudos to you for meeting yourself where you are in the moment. That’s a big deal! If we don’t take time to rest we often get stuck and this can definitely lead to frustration.

      I’m starting an interactive newsletter next month that is dedicated to getting the stuck out for the very reason you stated above – fear and overwhelm gets the best of anyone. I know its had a grip on me from time to time. http://bit.ly/cKilv1 When we’re clutched it can be a mini hell. I find the best tatic is to realize when we’re heading for overwhelm, pay attention to the signs, and take the right action in the moment to steer course back to center – sometimes the best defense is an inspired offense.

  5. This post is fantastic!! I can always tell when I need a break and so can my poor hubby lol. Apart from being cranky and skipping meals(which creates said crankiness) I also loose inspiration to create new designs. This doesnt happen to me too often(thank God!) but when it does I try to take a little me time. Sit back, relax and refocus. I hope you have a great night. ~Vanessa :)

  6. Very inspiring and i LOVE this idea of creative time out! I really needed this and calms me down in the mist of all these feeling of being overwhelmed! Thank you so much for sharing and thank you so much for this wonderful reminder of such a sweet sentiment! Love to you!

  7. I so related to this and agree. I was trying to be creative every night, but in the last month, a friend’s wedding, stuff at work, and a little funk derailed me a bit. I was feeling exhausted but wanted to create and then started feeling guilty and was like, “huh? This isn’t what this is all about! You are exhausted – sleep – there will be more time to create.” I guess I have trust issues with the muse? :) Abandonment issues, possibly? This was so good to read and remember that inspiration and creativity come from a place of abundance, and it’s ok to take a break to recharge our batteries.


  8. You’ve truly extracted a golden nugget here – “Trust.”

    Trust for me is a life long lesson. It keeps coming back around and reworking me asking me to let go and trust the process of life; Trust myself that I can CREATE what it is I need + envision, INCLUDING creating rest; Trust that opportunities won’t pass me by because I was busy creating renewal.

    The truth is I crave silence, its one of my favorite spices to flavor my day with. It allows me to BE – holds the experience of Being instead of doing, doing, doing. We all need time to practice BEING, it creates the optimal setting for our spirit to emerge, that deeper part of us that’s driving our ideas into creation. It’s what allows balance to exist in our part of the world – our inner world.

    I think as creators we have preconceived notions about what creating and Being an artist is. I too over look at times the creation of TRUST, the creation of BALANCE, the creation of RENEWAL and this it is the secret gel medium to creating a fulfilled life. These are classic tools from the Muse’s toolbox that support our mastery of COMPLETING what we desire. The stuff brings our dreams into fruition.

    It’s the ART of creative living.

    I know of no other art more beautiful or inspiring than the art of being there for ourselves. It allows us to Be there for others. This is huge, especially as someone who has experienced the hollowness abandonment presents. The ability to create the support we need within ourselves and outside ourselves is key. This circles back to TRUST for me – to Listen Within – the heart knows the way.

    Thank you so much for sharing your insight – priceless.

  9. Stephey, did you make this graphic? It’s super groovy!

    I take creative breaks by
    searching for wild river fish on
    long car drives and snapping clouds

    zooming by, the big picture is soul printed
    and the details get lost before I hold them

    1. You had me at clouds. thanks for sharing how you take creative time outs and for the lovely visuals.

      Yes, I did create the graphic – I create all my graphics! 😉

  10. Oh, Stephey – so well put! Just like creativity needs inspiration, it needs a rest, too, every now and then. I’ve been applying this idea to my life diligently the past few weeks… because I can feel the overwhelm creeping in.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Brandi! You know, I’ve been hearing a lot of people talking about feeling the “overwhelm creeping in.”

      I too have been hearing rest and slow down echo from the inside – it’s like I’m two steps ahead of myself and need to take a breath and catch up.

  11. I can get carried away with flow, working so intensely that I wear myself down and I too need to take a step back and refuel, rest, recharge, take care of myself… It’s tricky. Creativity can feel so urgent. And I do love it when I have the space and time to indulge.

    But like you say, there are drawbacks too, and just like a garden needs watering and tending, so does our creativity. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the “produce-mentality” of our fast-paced and consumer oriented world.

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