Creating a Pause in Life: 4 Ways Artists Can Keep their Work Alive

Published on October 14, 2013 by

cows on hillCows make me slow down and think.

Maybe its because their life on the rolling hills is one pause after another. Maybe it's the way they stand and chew and seem to enjoy life.

Over the weekend, I turned off the music as the car rolled over the hills. A mom and baby cow cross a hill, capturing my attention. Further down the road, more cows chewed on grass, tails switching flies away.

I discovered a back road in the country part of the town I was staying in.  While the traffic and development has populated several suburbs in the area, much of the back land remains hills with an occasional home and tree spotted across the landscape.  Longhorn cattle spread themselves around the landscape, grazing on grass and paying very little attention to the passing cars.

It's raw out here.  It's like the silence beckons me- be still for just a little while. The activity and noise will start again before you know it.

Everyone needs to pause now and again.

Musicians know a piece of music can become much more powerful as pauses are placed to create tension and tempo.  Painters leave white space in  their work to create space and mystery.

A few reasons every creative should add in pauses: quiet, non-busy times into their week.

1. Silent spaces helps us regroup when we feel in turmoil in our spirits.

The best description of the benefit of a little silence and solitude is by Ruth Hailey Barton, author of several books including Silence & Solitude, where she describes her own journey.

Ruth describes a time in her life when she felt like a jar of water that had been shaken.  All sorts of stuff was floating around.  The water was murky and muddy.

When Ruth stepped back and allowed herself to rest in stillness, the water became clear as the sediment settled.  All of a sudden she could see with clarity; she could feel again.  Feelings came back. She began to write again. She regained her purpose and priorities.  As a result she re-engaged in her life- both personal and professional- with renewed energy and focus.

2. Adding in pauses helps our brains solve problems.

We need times of renewal in our lives.  Put down the work, the t.v. remote and the magazines.  Let quiet time invade the activity.

I did this with a book I finished. I was hot on a deadline; wanting to push through to publication.

tree on the back road of El Dorado HillsBut something didn't seem right. I knew I felt more for the content but I couldn't figure out what it was.  Circumstances caused me to set the manuscript on the back burner for a few weeks as the editing gave way to other priorities.

Then, the breakthrough. What I was feeling finally was crafted into words and weaved throughout the book and the marketing plan. Many entrepreneurs will say that "good is good enough" and I agree- to a point.  As artists we know when there is that special something missing, when, if we push forward too hard we'll miss the special something.

I don't want to miss the special something; both for me and the readers.

3.  Creating stuff requires rest and renewal so we can think clearly.

It's a delicate dance, balancing marketing and production, battling against the perfectionistic mindset (which leads to paralysis) and knowing when a project needs a little bit more.

Pausing can help.

Tony Schwartz writes about this in his book, How We are Working isn't Working.  He devotes several chapters to the importance of placing regular renewal times in our lives. (if you have not read his book, I highly, highly encourage you to check it out.)

4.  Adding in pauses brings us back to the sweet, simple joys of living.

If life feels muddled right now, try incorporating quiet time in.  Take a walk.  Stare at the stars. Find the big dipper and the little dipper and marvel at the magnificence of the heavens.  Watch the sunrise.  Savor a meal.  Eat a piece of warm pumpkin bread with butter.  Watch the kids playing in the yard with uninhibited joy.

abandoned farmPerhaps you are working at top speed right now but something on the inside doesn't feel right.  Or perhaps it feels if nothing is moving at all.  Don't ignore the feelings!  We can't be ruled by our feelings but those feelings are indicators of something going on.

Pay attention.

Your turn:  have you experienced times of quiet in life that helped you to re-direct your art, solve a problem or re-engage in life in a fresh way?

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Leave a Comment