Have you ever noticed how authors and other creative artists have a hard time keeping a routine schedule for more than a few months or weeks? This is an amazing phenomenon for people who typically are perfectionists and have high expectations for their work and careers.
Authors and other creative people go through creative cycles I call the “Creative Phoenix” because of the periods of death and resurrection.
Your Creative Phoenix is born either through weeks of preparation or is born instantly when an idea pops into your head or you wake up from an inspiring dream.
This young creative idea is fresh, new and exciting. Even though the creative project is in the fragile beginning stages, you feel a drive to enhance it and help it blossom into a full grown novel, article, illustration, etc.
Creative Youth: (Summer)
Eventually this creative fire reaches a peak of intensity. The creative project will constantly be on your mind. You will think of dialogue in the shower or a new scene will come to you while you’re driving or while at the gym. This is the time to always keep your notebook handy.
During this peak time you can do your best work. You don't feel the panic or doubt of developing a new born idea. You, as the author or artist are absorbed in your work and can experience adrenalin rushes and extra creative energy that will drive you to stay up late, get up early, skip meals, take time off work, etc. to work on the project. Sometimes you will have euphoric thoughts like, “This is going to be the next best seller or agents are going to throw themselves at me to sell this book. I should start querying now.”
Creative Maturity: (Autumn) The mature Creative Phoenix is an idea that has been worked over. Let’s say if you are writing a book, this would be your refining and editing process. You start thinking about your publishing options, you hire an editor or cover designer, you get feedback from beta readers, etc.
This is the best time to edit because you can step back from the work and look at it with a critical eye without interrupting your creative flow.
Creative Natural Death: (Winter)
A natural end to a creative period is normal, yet sometimes authors will feel guilty for not working on a project or they may miss the “rush” of a new project.
This is when your project is concluding, such as writing the last chapter, or your creative rush is over and you need to step away from the project for a while.
For many artists and authors this can be a depressing time. They know they should be working on a project and they want to work, but they don’t have that drive they once had. Some people mistake this period of time as writer’s block, but it's part of the natural cycle of creativity.
During this time you need to focus on “nesting”. Yes, it’s what mothers do before they have a baby. They get everything ready for when the baby comes. For creative people this is the time to prepare for the next project. Personally, the better I prepare, the longer my creative lifecycle will last. This is when you catch up on housework, fix things, set appointments you've been putting off, clean your inbox, stock up on frozen meals, spend time with family, get out and be social, ETC. Get your life ready for when your phoenix is reborn.
Don't be discouraged that you aren’t writing. This is normal. Just think of it as a preparation time.
Your creative phoenix can be murdered by inside or outside sources. This is when you are in the beginning or middle stages of a creative project and something happens to kill that creativity.
The murder weapon could be a depressing rejection letter, an unusual amount of stress, illness, worry over finances, self-doubt, etc.
When a creative period is disrupted, the author usually will feel discouragement or depression over loosing the "steam" on their project as well as the added stress and trauma of the event that disrupted their creative period.
Whatever part of the cycle you are in, know that this is a normal process and enjoy it.