“Without great solitude no serious work is possible.” ~ Pablo Picasso
Ever had one of those days when you just can’t figure out what you need to be doing? There is so much to do. There is creating (no matter what your medium is), there is preparing, there is marketing (complete with Social Media and all that entails), selling, networking, organizing, finances, etc. Never a lack of things to do … on any given day I have a full calendar and an extra list too.
The doing, doing, doing never seems to end. And with the massive doing comes tons of distractions and includes lots of time engaging with others. The one thing that so often gets pushed to the side in the middle of all of this is our time with ourselves … the solitude to create with and in.
That is why, several years ago, I realized that part of my real work, as an Artist was to be with me. As a matter of a fact it was so important that I have time to be with me that it goes in my calendar faithfully, day after day & week after week. No time with me … just “being” time alone … and my creativity suffers and then I don’t get to bring my full self to my art. I don’t know about you but my Art becomes mechanical when the “me” is missing!
I have talked in other blog posts about the characteristics that are important to being a successful artist but this is more fundamental than all of that I think. Connecting to and nurturing our-Self is, to me, and to a lot of other Artists I know, a precursor to everything creative.
What does it look like? It looks like solitude, quiet or not. It looks like just me and me. It is alone without distractions. It takes courage as it is me facing me. Raw, no cover up. In the time with me I can hear me, I can reach inside and find the untainted me, the real me. I can focus. I can reflect. I can recharge. I can face my own past my own “now”. I am not influenced by anyone or anything.
The world doesn’t do “alone” very much or very well anymore. Solitude is not a big hit with most people. There is almost a fear of it. But with Artists it is a part of our thriving. What we do does NOT just come from our hands. What we do is driven by who we “be”. Our brain, our heart and our higher self all needs some time alone, some silence and/or some solitude to produce our Art in.
Now let’s get clear – this does not negate our time with others – that is important too – it stimulates us and our ideas and our creativity. There is so much that can be learned as we connect and even collaborate with others. Working with others boosts our creativity too, in a different way, but I think that solitude is ESSENTIAL for our creativity. But, solitude is a key piece of the puzzle to creativity and needs to be in place too.
According to Ester Buchholz, psychologist and author of The Call of Solitude, “Solitude is required for the unconscious to process and unravel problems. Others inspire us, information feeds us, practice improves our performance, but we need quiet time to figure things out, to emerge with new discoveries, to unearth original answers.”
Susan Cain, author of Quiet, stated her view about solitude and creativity like this: ““Solitude is a crucial and underrated ingredient for creativity. From Darwin to Picasso to Dr. Seuss, our greatest thinkers have often worked in solitude.”
The way I began to get into creating my time with me was years ago, when I read The Artists Way by Julia Cameron. Cameron, beyond assigning the reader to journal every morning, suggested an exercise she called the “artist date”. This is a time once a week when you make sure to do something inspiring and creative BY YOURSELF. “A weekly artist date is remarkably threatening—and remarkably productive,” wrote Cameron. She went on to say that if it felt like a waste of time that you “recognize this resistance as a fear of intimacy—self-intimacy.”
For any of you who, when I say solitude, conjures up fear of loneliness … let’s be clear: solitude is not to be confused with loneliness. Solitude is a fact – you are by yourself. Loneliness, on the other hand, is usually a negative emotional reaction to being alone or “feeling” separate. Funny enough, when the word “alone” was first created, around 1300, it meant a sense of being complete with one’s own being. It had nothing to do with being lonely.
Currently, I create sacred spaces and times for myself. I give myself alone time for meditation and a beach walk each morning upon waking. I end my day with sacred alone time too. I create other times in my week when I make sure my iPhone and iPad are charging elsewhere, my computer is not staring at me and I can just be with me and think, connect to myself and create.
When I make the time to reconnect to me … and my inner wiser SELF …. just indulging in that quiet time alone … IT IS SO JUICY!!! And what comes from it is even more AMAZING.
Need to sell you on it a little more? Here are some of the basic benefits of Solitude that you may be missing out on if you are not including it in your life:
- Solitude can teach us strength, resilience and the ability to fulfill our own needs.
- Solitude creates space for YOU to explore YOU so you can Grow, Expand and Evolve while it also brings forth our curiosity about the unknown, our will to be an individual, our hopes for freedom.
- Solitude connects You with YOU so you can become more intimate with YOU.
- Solitude inspires YOUR Imagination and Creativity.
- Solitude gives us the power to balance and adjust our lives.
- Solitude makes YOU better to be around when you are with others, as you discover more things about you and learn about your own passions and can then share that.
- Solitude gives You a connection to the unique authentic YOU so you no longer need to be a clone or follower of others.
- Solitude gives us down time and recharges and restores our energy.
- Solitude centers and grounds YOU so you can stand solid and be in control of your life
- Solitude teaches YOU to be alone without being lonely.
I think that, in this world of massive distraction, we need our solitude more than ever. Time alone in solitude can be fuel for our whole life not just our Art. Now the next question is: How can I possibly create that given what life currently looks like?????? If you know you need more solitude but you are having a hard time imagining how to it for yourself … here are some great suggestions on how to have it happen for you:
- Schedule It – Don’t think that in your busy life that solitude will just happen. You need to carve it out for yourself. Whether it is early in the day or late when everyone else has gone to sleep … claim it and stick with it so that it really becomes your sacred time for you. EXTRA HINT: If you have a family that you live with … let them know that you WILL NOT be available during your scheduled alone times.
- Remove Distractions and Clutter – Declutter and clear out your space where you will spend your alone time. A bunch of clutter can be very distracting and pull you out of your intended time with you. Clear off the top of your desk, close programs you are not using on your computer if you will be working on your computer, take distracting things out of the space or off the walls, etc.
- REALLY Disconnect – Turn off all those things that beep, buzz and beg you to engage with them – the internet needs to out of range and if you are working on your computer to create something then just turn the Wi-Fi OFF. Same thing goes for your phone, tablet, etc. Anything with a notification needs to be silenced.
- Stop Multi-tasking – Pick one thing to do and do it. It could be meditating, reading, a project that really turns you on, painting, drawing … something that will really make a difference for you. Don’t try multi-tasking – focus completely on the task you pick. Let yourself be present to that and that alone.
Even a small amount of solitude can help the creative process. I think it is a combination of being in the world with all of the stimulation from life (family, friends, peers … all kinds of social experiences) and solitude. We bring all of our life experiences to our creativity then solitude can nurture us and balance us in the creative process. In the end, showing the work and getting it out in the world will again involve opening it to the world and sharing with others.
My work, as a human and an artist, is fulfilled when I attend to both and allow them to complement each other. It creates a healthy creative life for me. If you haven’t been getting your share of solitude lately then I encourage you to create the time for yourself. I know it may take something but in the long run you will be so much richer for it. WHOOOOOOOOOHOOOOO to your time with YOU!!!
How important is your time with YOU?
What do you do to make sure you have time for solitude in your creative life?
Please feel free to share with us about your time with you and any ways you have created that allow you to make sure you get that time… I so appreciate hearing from you and love that we all get to share with and learn from one another as this is part of the connecting with others that is so valuable to me also!!!