With winter’s arrival, comes introspection. This is a dark, inward season, when our bodies slow down, our pets sleep a lot, and our energy quiets.
When we think of artists, we imagine them in the act of creating something. But there are several stages of creativity, and they’re all essential. Most of the “creative work” during the second stage, incubation, is done unconsciously. We wait! We may even feel frustrated, or as if we’re failing or “not really doing anything.” But the psyche is hard at work, making new connections, searching our memories, joining them with our feelings, propelling us into our next creation. So, although we seem to be standing still, we’re actually moving forward.
Think of winter as an incubation time, during which you wait and trust yourself, slowly turning toward what’s coming from inside of you to inspire you. When you notice impatience or frustration, remind yourself that incubation is only a stage of the creative process, and without it, creative blocks arise.
As we incubate, and inspiration moves from the unconscious into our awareness, it often appears first in our dreams.
Here’s a dream from “Max,” a sculptor, who knew his next project would be a gathering of people, but he didn’t yet have its form. He had been in a long period of incubation, and the dream seems to welcome him into the next stage, illumination:
I’m at a party. I’ve been looking for it for awhile, after what feels like years of doing nothing. Everything is red and gold, decorated for the holidays. It’s an expansive room, like an atrium, with several stories open above. The walls are painted gold, and there is lots of light. Everyone is leaping into the air, and floating there, doing somersaults, bounding around. It looks so fun! I leap, too, and it feels great. Soon, though, I begin to drop, slowly, to the ground. No one else is dropping this way. I’m frustrated. Why can’t I stay aloft? I leap again. I decide I’ll just keep leaping.
Max’s dream reflects that process creative people know so well: preparing by learning new skills or developing talents (preparation); a fallow period of “doing nothing” (incubating), followed by…inspiration (illumination)! Even though Max battles the deflation and depression so many creative people do, here, he is determined to continue to leap into the air in that expansive “gold room” of the self, playing with his creative ideas (verification).
Happy new year, dreamers! Keep leaping…