Stepping Off the Roof

not me, but I did this too
not me, but I did this too

The first step off the roof was terrifying. “Go on,” the soldier said. “Step off.” We were four floors up. My senses were not swayed by a helmet and safety ropes. The body knew the ground was too far away, but my ego didn’t want to look afraid.

After rappelling down the building, I couldn’t lift my arms for a week. It was worth the rush. Before the pain kicked in, I jumped around squealing. I could do anything!

Some creative days are like that. First the fear and then the rush. A shout. YES! And desire to grab someone by the shoulders. “Did you see? Did you see what did? It was amazing!”

Then the next morning the pain kicks in. And I’ll never have the energy to make anything ever again.

What do you do to get that energy back?

7 thoughts on “Stepping Off the Roof

  1. This is easier, I know, for someone with the (relative) freedom to set his own schedule to say, so I apologize in advance. But once I get into a daily, (nearly-)always-at-the-same-time routine, I tend not to notice the ebb and flow of energy. Only afterwards, on re-reading, do I think to myself, “Dang, you must’ve been asleep at the switch when you wrote that…” or “Whoa, that was a good day!”

    If I had to juggle multiple creative priorities, lurching constantly from one to the other, I think I’d be nuts before the week was out.

    Never bungee-jumped or rappelled down a building. I did get a sort of extended visceral thrill out of surviving a 10-day camping trip by myself, via motorcycle — without dying or wrecking the bike or anything. It felt in retrospect like the grab-by-the-shoulders moment you describe above: “Wow — I did it!”

  2. I am smack dab in that feeling of no energy right now. I’ve been trying to paint all day and nothing has come. Nothing.

    But then… I did write over 2000 words in my novel. So maybe I’ll say to switch genres/media and get something else out there. Ofcourse, that’s the opposite of what JES would say. Go figure. Although I do agree with his suggestion of having that routine in place, so you never even give yourself the chance to lose the energy.

    But then, I’ve had it, and then lost it. And I have to go back and build the habit back up, before inspiration or energy or anything. Set my schedule, and if I have no writing or painting that comes to me, I read over old work or right outlines or character studies, or make collages, or attempt to paint things that will be terrible anyway, but it doesn’t matter because they just serve to get the muscles working again. Music can help, too.

    You know, come to think of it, I’m really expert in this question, as I’m always struggling to get back to being creative, whether I haven’t painted in three years or a day.

    Oh, hey, after not having anything all day, I went to and read their prompt and got an immediate flash of an idea.

    So that can help, too. To take an external prompt and go with it. (actually, I used to have a pot that I kept words in and used for that purpose. I did it when I was teaching for whenever kids were stuck. Sometimes they would pick 4 or 5 words and write something to connect them all.)

    Oh, one more thing. I think.

    Sometimes not being inspired is important. Sometimes down time, without creating is needed. Maybe you need the fallow period. You’ve been working a lot. Maybe you are hatching some ideas, and they need warmth and stillness and a soft butt of feathers sitting on them, no dancing required.

  3. My situation is a little different. Because of health issues I actually run out of physical energy before I run out of creative energy. Novel writing rejuvenates me creatively (what a rush!!) but wears me out physically, so I’m both exhausted and exhilarated, after about an hour or two at best. It’s unbelievably frustrating to get stopped by my body just as I’m really getting going writing. At those times impatience at my own constraints becomes my greatest challenge. I give myself peptalks and complain to my husband, poor guy, but mostly I just try to be kind to myself
    I’ve had to find all kinds of ways to rest and refuel in between daily writing bouts in order to complete a novel: things like music, gardening, very slow walks, cups of tea etc. I also have tried to ruthlessly eliminate or at least cut down whatever else might sap that precious energy that I need/want for the novel while still having enough for my kids, my marriage, etc. So sometimes things like blog entries, or housework, go by the wayside!

  4. JES, often having to cram my writing into small moments of freedom, gives me more energy than if I had all day. That said, it would be nice to have all day.

    rowena, I agree and yes, people need those fallows periods, but I hate that feeling of getting nothing done, of time passing and wasted. And I know that arguments against that, but it is a hard feeling to shake. WIth what you create, you seem to have a good grasp on using your time–though that probably doesn’t always feel that way.

    Sarah, toss what you need to the wayside and keep what really matters to you.

  5. I’m in the same boat as Sarah. My body wears out before my creativity. The result is that I don’t try to write every day, because I can’t stand the disappointment. It’s so frustrating. However, I’m going to get my hormone levels checked on Tuesday, so hopefully I’ll be better in a month or so of taking a higher dose.

    And speaking of creativity, I just passed an award to you. It’s on my blog. I know you’re busy, so feel free to display the award even if you don’t have time to play the meme.

  6. That looks like a lot of fun. Personally though I would be afraid of freezing up before I ever hit the bottom. I’m more of a “my feet below on the ground” kind of guy 🙂

    To get that energy back, you should try espresso by the cup – it works wonders.


  7. Well, I like what rowena said because I’m in the middle of a no-inspiration spell, mostly, I think, because I don’t feel well. I’m hoping once I feel better, I’ll get back into a routine of writing again. Until then, I’ve decided to give myself a break. I don’t have much choice.

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