discipline

Root Rot

We have a lemon tree on our back patio, if you can call it that. A sad, brittle structure of sticks with a handful of lemons on it does not a lemon tree make.

It was once beautiful. O, I could tell you stories of it's waxy leaves, richly green. I could describe to you the sweet scent of it's summer blossoms. I could share the excitement of seeing it's first green baubles, the promise of an abundant harvest to come.

We had dreams of summer lemonade and lemon pie when we first brought it home, that healthy tree. Nine months later it is…well…something else entirely. For the last two months we have agonized over it. We've watered. We've sunned. We've fed.

We've given up.

We have resigned ourselves to its impending demise.

I'm not an arborist, as I'm sure you've deduced, but I think I can see the problem.

It's dying from the bottom up, from the inside out. It's roots are too saturated and too far gone. The carriers of life-giving nutrients and moisture are rotting away, unable to take what they're given. Too much of a good thing—trite but true.

A few days ago I wrote about the value of hibernating, of responding to the natural winters of life and allowing your creative output to go dormant for awhile. But if spring fails to spring you from your hibernation, there may be another thing happening, a deeper problem, a root-level sickness.

And usually you don't have to be an arborist to diagnose the problem, just an artist. Because an artist knows when they've ceased to absorb all the life-giving nutrients they've been given. An artist knows when collecting inspiration has lowered into rapacious rot.

We need to stop succumbing to the sickness of incessant inspiration-gathering followed by inaction.

The best remedy? Get to work.

 

Idea-less

photo-fixed

I don't want to write tonight.

I don't want to do the hard work of fashioning thoughts into words. Forget sentences. (Sigh)

I'm out of energy. I'm out of ideas. I'm out of practice.

I have a reminder that greets me each morning; it pops up on my computer, my phone, and my tablet. It's a reminder to write. Unfortunately, I've been in a long stretch of not feeling much like writing, so day after day I have ignored that nagging little reminder. I silence it for the day, checking the little box next to it, fooling it into thinking I actually did the work. I get to enjoy all the satisfaction of checking off boxes without actually doing anything.

I haven't taken the simple step of simply deleting my recurring reminder. I haven't quite asked it to go away, only to come back another day.

You see, I know that I'm not actually satisfied by just checking off the box. Pretending I did something and actually doing something are not the same. I know this.

To be a writer you have to write. To have the next idea you have to be faithful with the one you have…or the one you don't have yet. You don't get to be creative by only creating when you're inspired. You don't get to be great if the only time you ever create is when you feel like it.

After all, isn't it more creative to create when you least feel like it? Isn't that really "out of the box" thinking? The best idea you can possibly have is to get to work whether you have an idea or not.