The muse had left the building.
For a writer and a creative, for a woman whose heart beats in prose and poetry and whose soul seeks connection and creative expression, it was almost unbearable. Foreign. Painful.
I sat down at my computer screen - fingers poised and resting gently on my keyboard - and froze. I didn’t know what to write. I felt a million anxious thoughts race through my mind. Is this it? Has my creative muse left me forever? Will that rush of emotion and inspiration ever flow from my fingertips again? What does this mean for my work? For my creative practice? For my spirit?
If you’ve spent much time here, you know that it’s been a challenging few months. Major surgery. Family emergency. Moving home. Heightened emotions and sleepless nights in hospital rooms and moments of overwhelming exhaustion.
In the midst of all that, it felt as if my well of creative inspiration had… run dry.
I could still tap into that particular creative flow that helps me to make magic out of my clients’ work and words, but when I would sit down at the feet of my own creative practice… nothing.
Desperate, I shared this with one of my dearest friends. With tears in my eyes, I admitted that I didn’t know when, if ever, the muse would visit again.
She listened, took a deep breath, and shared with me three simple pieces of advice:
- You are in a moment of tremendous transition. Be gentle with yourself. Integrating change takes time and energy, both physically – and emotionally. Allow yourself to feel it and experience it without expectation.
- Stop writing. Do anything but write. Paint. Collage. Draw. Sing. Dance. Your creative muse hasn’t left you. You’re expecting her to show up in one way, when she speaks so many different languages. Don’t box her in.
- When you’ve processed this, share it with your people. Your tribe needs to hear that even you, as a creative entrepreneur, still have days when you don’t feel like creating. Share with them how to experience your muse outside of your written work. Share with them how you too know what it’s like to stare at that blinking cursor, not knowing where to start or what to write.
Our call ended, but her words stayed with me.
So, I stopped writing.
Instead, I spent one weekend in the woods and another exploring a new city. I doodled in my notepads and spent hours listening to music. I cleaned out an unused room to make physical space for my muse to show up. I blasted Spotify in my car and sang along to my favorite songs. I held dance parties in my living room and pulled out my painting supplies.
I connected with friends and family with intention and attention. I leaned into conversation with newfound curiosity and inquisitiveness. I stood enraptured at the sight of a herd of elk in the evening fog and sat silently next to my sweetheart, watching the birds flit gracefully on the river as we sipped our morning coffee.
Rather than writing, I soaked in the words of my favorite authors. I read poetry aloud. I curled up in the corner of the couch with a novel. I let their words wash over me without the expectation of inspiration.
When I came back to my writing practice, rather than opening up a new Word document, I opened up the cover of my journal and started a new page with these seven words: I don’t know what to write.
I let the experience and the expression of not knowing what to write guide me back. Back to my muse. Back to my writing practice. Back to creativity.
It’s still not perfect. There are days when the flow of creative inspiration feels more like a trickle. There are moments when I sit down and stare at my screen, unsure of where or how to start.
And that’s ok.
There are going to be moments when you aren’t going to know what to write or paint or draw, whatever your creative medium may be. Or days when you sit down to write content for your tribe – a blog or email, a Facebook post or Instagram caption – and you stare at the blinking cursor, unsure of how or where to start.
It will feel as if your well of creative inspiration has run dry.
Remember, in those moments, that your muse has not, in fact, left the building.
Rather, she is asking you to seek her without expectation. To be gentle with yourself and know that she’ll visit again. Perhaps speaking a different language or through a different medium.
So, for just a moment, stop writing. Do anything but write. Paint. Collage. Draw. Sing. Dance. Read poetry aloud or prose in solitude. Sit in silence with your sweetheart or let curiosity guide your conversation.