Not Everything Should Be Shared | The Case For Taking A Quiet Creative Pause
I have this little nagging voice in my head every so often, telling me that I am not making enough work as a dancer, choreographer, writer, and blogger. This kind of focus on the quantity of creativity quickly spirals into a constant need to look towards the future and run at it like a madwoman. However, if one is constantly shuttling forward, it is all too easy to leave the “why” of it- that second degree of quality and meaning- lost in the dust along the trail somewhere. Sometimes we have to halt in our tracks, take a few steps back, and quietly rediscover our personal reasons for making work, tuning out the noise of any external traffic.
As someone who works freelance, taking a break can sometimes be a scary thing to do. There is always the underlying fear that if you press pause on the hustle, you are going to miss out on some major opportunities, get behind on your social media or emails, and just generally fall off the face of the earth. However, what is the point of any of it if your mind is too jumbled up to be able to thoughtfully put yourself out there and follow through? How will you even be able to identify if you are actively choosing the right opportunities, subjects, and people in the first place?
This is where the process of taking a mindful pause is completely necessary. I do not mean a complete break from creation itself, but more a break from sharing the process- moving far from the public eye that we have gotten so used to with social media and our online selves these days.
It is astonishingly easy to get sucked into the mindset of having to share every moment all the time, both of our work processes as artists and creatives and, in general, of our lives. As a natural introvert, maybe it is even easier since the online world provides a way of connection without social exhaustion. However, as it turns out, this consistent keeping up with digital life is exhausting in its own way. We call followers our "audience" for a good reason- it 's as if we are always in the spotlight. With time, it becomes necessary to take a step away from it all to see more clearly what we are doing, sharing and reassess why we are doing it in the first place.
About a month ago was when I decided to take a hiatus from blogging. Immediately after I took that step back from constantly putting content out there, I saw that a clear change needed to be made. My personal work and creative self no longer felt in line with what I was sharing, in both subtle and in larger more obvious ways. What I decided to do was to go back to basics: journaling, training, simply writing down and developing ideas with no end goal in mind, and discussing this whole process only with friends and family close around me. I went on to get a little bit quieter on facebook and instagram as well, listening to the voice that told me that this development process I'm going through at the moment is still a little too intimate and raw to share with everyone. It was a clear reminder that not everything we think, make, or brainstorm is meant for the public eye. Some internal processes are meant to stay internal.
I read these words recently in some book on writing and creativity (I’ve consumed so many lately that I am mixing up which one it was), quoting Gustave Flaubert:
“Talent is long patience, and originality an effort of will and of intense observation.”
His words speak against the idea that talent is something natural to fall back on, on the contrary, it is a careful practice and goes hand in hand with the ability to be unique. This resonated with my state of mind these past couple weeks- allowing myself to take a leisurely patient pause in order to observe things more closely. Disconnecting enhanced it all even more because it gave me the space to listen to my own will and what I want the purpose of my work to be. So often the internet and social media feeds flood us with influences, ideas, and resources, which is all wonderful and miraculous, but after too long it can start to get a bit noisy and sometimes even become a distraction.
Krista Tippett wrote in her book Speaking of Faith,
“Silence is an endangered quantity in our time… Silence, embraced, stuns with its presence, its pregnant reality.”
Her words themselves stun me to silence with their poignancy. Even while life moves on around us, as it has been for me between traveling, dancing, and the usual, there is an inner silence that can be nurtured and embraced, bringing us into our own truths and realities.
This month-long quiet pause has culminated into a lot of newness for me, both tangible and intangible. On the latter end, I feel like I have a stronger grasp on my goals and wishes, both immediate and semi-long term. In more material matters, I am moving forward once again with some new movement projects, have finally completed the redesign of this website with a stronger concentration on what my core passion has always been- dance + choreography, plus a refocusing of what I want to write about, which is primarily dance, food, travel, and navigating being an artist in this world today (which, granted, is still a pretty wide canvas). Maybe the changes I’m making appear subtle to the outside viewer, but inside I am renewed, refreshed, and so much more clear-headed.
I feel pretty confident in recommending taking a silent pause to anyone who is feeling a little too caught up in the momentum of life- whatever your work and career may be. We can all benefit from a little disconnecting from time to time, and the truth is that this whole process of reassessing and redefining is continual. It has no limit. There is no end to the constant fluidity of adopting an identity and shifting and molding it into something slightly different from before. We can choose to do this publicly, which can, admittedly, provide some necessary support and encouragement, but I believe doing it intimately is also vitally important.
So once in a while, turn it all off.
Go deep inside.
Listen to that wild quiet and energetic stillness in order to discover what truly is driving you.
Then, redirect your course and emerge back into the open and willing world.