Cornwall Ontario — Sandra Taylor Hedges writes: As a rule we humans like routine and ritual. We like it because it makes up feel safe and secure. It started as children when we had a time to go to bed and a time to wake up. We went to school on weekdays, with all of our class times blocked out in a certain sequence; lunch at the same time; go back home at the same time; after school we had activities we took part in before our evening meal, homework and then to bed all like clockwork. We would often try to rock that boat but in the end we pretty well stuck to the schedule. After we reached adulthood with a few detours in our late teens and early twenties we had to stick to a new but similar schedule with job, family and the day to day running of our home life.
Even the average artist will have some type of routine, work, studio time, volunteer time and let’s not forget the party time or something like it with the other artists. This will work for us for a while but after weeks, months or years of the same old routine a strange and terrible thing will happen to an Artist. We find ourselves in the Dead Zone.
The Dead Zone is a strange hell of our own making created by the very routine that we loved so much. It’s insidious and sneaks up on you without warning. All you know is one day you realize that you are not in the mood to create anything. You stare at the blank canvas or paper; look over at your guitar or dance shoes and nothing. There is no motivation to do that thing that up until this moment was your reason to live. If I was to give you a visualization of what it is like in the “Dead Zone” it would go something like this…
I wake up to find that I am sitting in the middle of a desert, it is hot and dry and there is nothing for as far as I can see all around me. The ground is cracked and the plants that I can see are dead and dry. There is no colour only dull grey dirt, earth and sky. I think to myself I should get up and leave this place but I haven’t the energy to try. So I lie down and close my eyes and wonder aloud “how did I get here?” but no one answers. I am alone, completely alone.
This condition should not be confused with depression although if you allow yourself to stay here long enough depression will start to creep into your soul. No, this is a condition that lack of stimulation has caused. The first hint that you are there is when people ask “What have you been doing lately anything new?” You hear yourself answer “No, I actually haven’t been inspired to do anything lately, just too busy I guess”. Having a couple of off days are a normal part of the creative process but when the “Off Day” becomes an Off week, a month or a year it’s time to realize that you got yourself here in the Dead Zone and only you can get yourself out.
How do you do that? Read next week’s column and find out some of the best ways to bring colour and life back into the desert and turn the “Dead Zone” into the “Creative Flow”.