Every Field Must Lay Fallow

Every Field Must Lay Fallow

Maybe you are in the middle of a dry spell so severe your lips are parched.

I’m sorry. I know that feeling — that sinking, empty, aching feeling — and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

But I know that eventually it will end. And you will live through it. I’m sorry I can’t say how long “eventually” will be, but I do know that you will get your mojo back.

You are an artist.

And sometimes artists endure extended periods during which it seems as if nothing’s happening.

It ’s called acedia, meaning “spiritual torpor and apathy; ennui” or “anomie in societies or individuals, a condition of instability resulting from a breakdown of standards and values or from a lack of purpose or ideals.”

And it doesn’t mean you’re dead inside.

It just means that you’ve temporarily lost the ability to feel joy in your work. Which is sad.

But if you accept this dry spell as a stage in the artistic process, feeling fully confident that no one and nothing can ever take away your identity as an artist (after all, they haven’t been able to make it go away yet, have they?), you just might survive.

Maybe this is the time to pursue some of those other things you always say you want to do. Volunteer more. Have lunch with friends.

Take a temporary job in a field that ’s of interest to you. Spend more time with children. Read all those books you’ve got piled up. Plan a trip. Sit on the couch with the television off.

Whatever happens, don’t give up on yourself.

Eventually you will get a little tickle. An idea will whisper to you. You’ll catch yourself thinking, “I wonder if . . .” and you’ll be off to the races again, productive, happy, and rejoicing in the renewal of your vibrant, creative voice.

Slogging Through The Middle

It’s so exciting at The Beginning, isn’t it?

You’re learning, you’re launching, you’re out there on the far edge of your experience and it’s a real thrill.


Then comes The Middle.

The Middle is where it gets kinda boring. It’s when the to-do list becomes an exercise in tedium. The End might have certain charms, but there’s very little that’s sexy about The Middle.

It’s like how Christmas shopping is for some people: way-super-fun picking out the lovely gifts for the people you adore, wrapping and shipping is an unbelievable drag but then witnessing the unwrapping of the gift is a blast.

So – how do you stay motivated through The Middle?

1) Remember your values. You began this process with the idea that your work will bring something important (more peace, greater enlightenment, better banana bread, thinner thighs…) to the world. Picture that effect rippling out in the world. Feel the joy. When you can’t get the train set suitably wrapped, it can be very invigorating to focus on the future: the delighted look on your little engineer’s face upon opening.

2) Delegate. Get help. Farm it out. Beg, borrow or trade. The work that is a giant drag for you might actually be sort of fun for someone else. Plus, that other person is not burdened by your story about your journey. (They aren’t thinking, “Oh, I should be done with this by now” or “This is probably a really dumb idea” or “Who cares about enlightenment anyway?” They are just doing the work.)

3) Pursue clarity. Put the to-do list down, turn off your phone and sit quietly for five minutes. No distractions. No music. Lock yourself in the bathroom to get away from the family if you have to, but find the place that is quiet inside of your head and hang out there. Deep breaths. Tell the monkey mind to zip it and call upon your more evolved, more loving, more spiritually evolved self. Put your hand on your belly and tune in to your Inner Wisdom, your Intuition, your Higher Self.

Listen closely to what that still, small voice has to say.

The Middle feels a little better now, huh?