A to Z Challenge: Z is for In the Zone

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Not in the zone.

Do you ever have that moment when the creative work just flows? When it’s easy, and effortless, and the words seem to show up on the screen all on their own? And they’re beautiful words, too. No toiling to craft the perfect sentence–it just appears.

In positive psychology,  Mihály Csíkszentmihályi asserts that flow is the sweet spot between boredom and anxiety. You’re fully present, in the space between autopilot and overthinking.

In those moments, we know pure joy. We feel fully alive. We recognize the truth: that we are creative beings, meant to be doing this work. Those moments make the frustration and confusion of the creative process all worth it. When you’re involved in a creative endeavor and you’re in the zone, everything seems easy and perfect.

But it isn’t always like that, is it? In fact, I’d wager that most of the time, it isn’t like that.

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Creative Staycation: The Beginning

Dogwood blossom

Creative Staycation was born out of a need to prioritize creativity.

Last week I realized that I had been neglecting my creative projects. While I always seemed to have time to check Facebook or Twitter, I hadn’t been making time to draw, or write, or paint, or brainstorm new ideas.

When my cousin canceled her trip to New York this weekend and my boyfriend announced that he was going upstate for four days with his family, I decided that I would use the time to reconnect with my creative energy. Instead of canceling my Friday plans to go upstate with Boyfriend, or telling my friends that I could do all of the things I’d turned down because of my cousin’s visit, I embarked on a Creative Staycation.

The Creative Staycation is a designated block of time to follow creative whims, devote attention to in-progress projects, play with new ideas, and nourish the spirit through self-care. For me, it’s also about taking responsibility and being honest with myself about how I’m prioritizing my activities, and releasing judgment around how I spend my time.

I’m an artist, a writer, and I work with kids every day. I started the personal development and spirituality work almost three years ago, but in March I recommitted to the practice. In other words, I made a hobby of working on myself. I stopped mindlessly playing iPad games, watching crap TV, and binge-reading historical romance novels. I upped my spiritual practice and started journaling again, but my “Quick Art Project of the Day” goal wasn’t fulfilling enough. The Creative Staycation served as a way to jump back into the creativity pool head first.

The Creative Staycation blog is a celebration, a sharing of the creative and spiritual steps I’m taking on this journey of the self. Expect “Quick Art Project of the Day” posts (often with kids involved), updates about in-progress projects, creative inspiration, and written processing of spiritual concepts as I work to deepen my own understanding.

If this resonates with you at all, I invite you to conduct your own Creative Staycation, even if just for an hour. It’s more about a protected block of time than any kind of rigid structure. Within that time, you’re free to create, play, and have fun, by making the conscious choice to do so. Go ahead. Indulge in creativity. But even more, prioritize creativity.