When I was in my late twenties I started to get discouraged with my art making habits. It seemed like no matter what I did, I always wasn't doing something I felt like I should be doing. I spent much of my brain space thinking, "I should be writing," or "I should be painting." There was always something tugging at the back of my mind.
It wasn't until I had enough years of perspective under my belt that I realized certain mediums had seasons for me. I preferred to write in the fall and winter when the weather kept me inside, and paint in the spring and summer when I was most inspired by the outdoor sights and colors.
Once I realized my mediums had seasons, I could relax into the rhythm of my own art making.
Six months back I gave up screenwriting for the third time in my life. And when I say "gave up," I mean I let go of the idea of ever writing a script again. I said goodbye for an indeterminate length of time - possibly forever. How I got to that point is a story for another day. Despite the fact I'd been screenwriting for more than a dozen years and loved the medium, my work had become stagnant and forced. I had to stop. It wasn't a great feeling, I'll admit, but I knew screenwriting would come back around if it was meant to.
Last month, out of the blue, I woke up with a nearly complete script outline in my head. I had the basics of a story, the emotional core of the character, the setting, the inciting incident and more. Now I'll get snatches of dialogue when standing in line at the market, or discover something about my character in a day-dream. So I know it's time to start dictating. (Dictating, you may know, is the phase before writing when your work acts as a tyrannical boss forcing you to do its bidding. There's barely any escaping this phase. Then again, who would want to escape it?) The recent resurrection of screenwriting in my life is perfect timing as winter, my ideal writing season, is just around the bend.
As it turns out, there aren't just seasons for each medium, but perhaps times as well. Who will ever know the true mystery of the whens and hows of art making? All I know is we must be diligent in our tracking of it.
If you're feeling a bit unsettled in your work or lamenting a lack of output, consider the rhythms, seasons and times of your own work and how that might be affecting things. Maybe you're simply trying to flow when you should be ebbing... or vice versa.
Photo by Monkia Kostera.