If you read the previous post and thought there isn’t enough productive work in Incubation to count as Product Time, you’re going to be flabbergasted by Hibernation.
You can move through the stages of the creative process many times in one project. The drafting or revising you do in Verification can cause you to ask new questions, aka circle back to First Insight.
Then you need to do more research to answer those questions, aka move through Saturation. You land back in Incubation until the next aha insight of Illumination brings you full circle back to Verification again.
Eventually, you expend more creative energy moving through the creative process than you can restore by doing Process regularly. This energy deficit moves you into Hibernation.
When you can’t imagine imagining anything new, when you have no creative juice left and the well is dry, you’re not blocked, you’re in Hibernation.
Regular Process play can make Hibernation shorter or less intense, but you can’t avoid it forever.
Allow me to quote from Around the Writer’s Block,
“Hibernation is the equivalent of letting a garden go fallow in the winter. It’s the quiet time when you recharge your creative energy and refresh your perspective.
The urge to be constantly producing something, constantly busy doing ‘something important’ may be as American as apple pie, but it doesn’t serve our creativity. Downtime is essential to long-term creative effectiveness.”
What to Do
So how you work your way through Hibernation? You don’t.
You have to rest your way through. Hibernation might sound wildly self-indulgent, but it is essential to take time to refuel your creative energy and feed your creative spirit.
Here’s what Product Time looks like during Hibernation:
- being in nature
- watching waves
- going to art museums or galleries
- reading wonderful books
- watching great films (not blockbuster movies)
- flipping through photography books
- wandering or sitting in a garden
- puttering about doing nothing in particular
- listening to rain or a stream
- otherwise immersing yourself in beauty and serenity.
Would You Prefer a Block?
If part of you is screaming “What a waste of time!” or if you think those things sound wonderful but you simply don’t have time for frivolous things like that, you are setting yourself up for an extended block.
You can mentally muscle yourself to keep going when your creative energy is tapped, but you’re just going through the motions. You might be moving, but you can’t go anywhere creative.
Refusing to acknowledge the reality of Hibernation and do what you need to do to restore your creative energy just perpetuates the sense of dragging yourself through the motions. Or causes you to rush all day, then collapse and zone-out in the evening.
I love the flash of insight and the bliss of being in the flow as much as any writer, but when it becomes necessary, I’ll take hibernating over being blocked any day.
How about you? Have you rested your way through Hibernation? What works for you? What didn’t work?
For more about Hibernation see chapter 4 of Around the Writer’s Block.