It’s 9 A.M. on a Sunday morning. I was scheduled to paint on stage during my church’s morning services today. In case you don’t know, I’m part of a team of artists that work on pieces during our church’s various weekly services. I do this once a month or so, working through two services alongside another member of our team. In fact, I would already be there now, fighting to wake myself up for the early service, if it weren’t for the ice just starting to melt off my street.
God and Winter Storm Jonas got together to give me a reprieve from my usual schedule this weekend, and I’m grateful. After weeks of studying and writing about rest, I got to spend a weekend doing nothing else. What would have been a packed calendar got blown wide open when the sleet started falling Friday. Instead of to-do lists and appointments, I had Netflix and pancakes. I watched movies, wrote in my journal, and laid about like a cat for the last 48 hours. It was grand.
Do you want to know the best part? (Of course you do…) The best part is that all that rest has made me ready to be creative. More ready than I’ve been in some time. I love my work on the art team, but rising early to do public art can be hard after a week of busy days and jam-packed evenings. I don’t really want to create; I’d much rather sleep. Too much going with too little rest means I often take the stage with my creative batteries running on half-power at best (sometimes even less). Yes, I make some kind of creative work happen, but it’s a struggle to put my heart into my work when my mind and body are so worn out.
I bet more than a few of you know what I’m talking about, right? Brene Brown may call us the Sweaty Creatives, but I’d like to coin another term: Weary Creatives. These are the ones whose creative batteries run on red-line more than on full, not because we like it that way, but because we know how to work better than we know how to rest. We forget to make rest an intentional decision, or maybe we avoid it altogether because we’re scared of what it might entail. We want a bright inner outlook, but we just can’t seem to grasp it. We dredge up whatever remaining creative juices we can find to keep marshalling through, but we haven’t felt a real connection to our work in a long, long time. Welcome to the life of the Weary Creative.
Lift up your tired heads, Weary Creatives, because I’m here to tell you I’ve found another way. A much better way, if I may be so bold. I’ve discovered that rest is the ultimate weapon in the creative arsenal. Rest is key to making use of our creative skills, providing the fuel on which our creative engines can run. Classes, practice, and hard work are all great, but they are like adding fancy parts to a car engine that has no gasoline. All our efforts at creative self-improvement are meaningless if we have no fuel inside to power what we’ve learned. Put a little rest-fuel in that engine, however, and those advanced parts will carry you anywhere you want to go.
So, if you feel like a Weary Creative, here is my advice to you: CHOOSE REST. Make rest an intentional priority in your life. Work through whatever you issues you may have with rest, then purpose to do it. I know first hand how hard this can be, but I’ve also seen what it can do for creative practice and life in general. Life as a Rested Creative is possible, and it’s far, far better than the alternative. Come, creative friends! It’s time to take a rest.
Sarah is the co-founder of Bright Ideas, a designer by trade, and an artist by passionate choice. She was born and raised in South, and delights in sharing Southern culture with anyone who cares to learn. Sarah collects creative hobbies; when she isn’t making art, you can usually find her on the dance floor. Follow her creative adventures on Instagram and Twitter!