Mindfulness for creative crisis

wendy ann greenhalgh mindful drawing.JPG

Have you ever thought 'Oh no I've ruined it!' when you were creating?

Here's a little story for you... The other night I was working on my BIG red tangle drawing, for what I thought was the last time. After months of work I was almost finished, and I'd had very clear ideas in my head for some time about the last things I needed to do to finish. I could see it oh-so-clearly. So, confidently and boldy I DID it. And it looked awful! I knew as soon as I'd done it I'd made a mistake. And following on from that realisation was the thought that's familiar to everyone with a creative practice, Oh no I've ruined it!

Now at that point - in the past - that thought would have swiftly followed with another thought that it was a disaster, and another thought, that I'd failed, and another that I was a failure, and I might even have had a little cry before I went to bed feeling lousy.

But the other night that didn't happen, and the reason it didn't happen - for which I'm eternally thankful, is because these days I practice creative mindfulness. Instead of letting the negative thoughts, catastrophizing and self-recrimination escalate, I simply noticed the Oh no I've ruined it thought, as a thought. And I let it go. It had no hold on me whatsoever. Phew!

Instead I took a few breaths, and said to myself (with a certain amount of wry humour), "Wendy Ann, you've had an image in your head for weeks now of what this last part of the tangle would look like. And guess what, you tried it, and it doesn't work! Don't like it? That's fine. Disappointed? That's ok too. Looks like this drawing is going to have to become something else instead." And then I took a deep breath, corrected a few bits and carried on. 

For me this little story sums up all that creative mindfulness can offer us - the building of a new relationship with our thinking, a growing freedom from negative self-talk, the end of falling into depressions when it doesn't go right (and creating being creating their WILL be times when it doesn't go right), in other words the start of a whole new relationship with our minds and our creativity.