Breathing Through A Creative Slump

My friend and I are teaching a half-day retreat for writers and artists in October called Opening The Creative Mind. We first taught it as a 90-minute workshop at a creative writing conference last spring. However, it truly began a few years ago when I was taking  yoga classes to bend and breathe my way through a rather confusing and challenging time in my life. I noticed something lovely happened to me in Robin’s classes that did not happen in any others.

This is blind contour drawing, something we’re adding to our meditation retreat. Photo and article from The New York Times Magazine linked here.

Whether I attended her sweat-inducing vinyasa class or her more soothing hatha class, I’d walk home filled with writing and art ideas. But even more remarkable: I felt great about those ideas. They all seemed viable and interesting and full of rewarding potential. Even better than all of that: I felt fully capable of pursuing those ideas, of crafting essays and composing illustrations.

I’d get home and wonder, “Why do I ever think I can’t do this? Hm. Weird,” and I’d settle into work as an Artist Who Believes in Her Craft.

But then, by the next day, the more practiced and habitual critical thoughts would return and I’d wonder how I’d been so sure of my ideas yesterday.

So, one day after class, I asked Robin, “Would you want to collaborate with me and teach a writing and meditation workshop?” She said “Sure!” and it’s been an easy and inspiring collaboration ever since.

As artists, Robin and I both know the subtle and layered resistance artists face. Robin is both an actor and a director, and I am both a writer and illustrator. We talked at length about our own struggles to believe in ourselves and our craft. We’ve also both been teachers for a long while; Robin teaches yoga and meditation and I taught English at the college level for 15 years. We’ve seen the struggles play out in our students and have ushered them through anxiety, doubt, creative blocks, resistance and fear.

We created a workshop we both wanted to take and felt eager to offer to others dealing with a creative slump. Our first students gave us great feedback about the workshop, and the most rewarding part for me was seeing them look as light, open, and happy as I always felt walking home from Robin’s yoga class.

So, we decided to continue the collaboration but make it a longer format so we can keep the gentle yoga, meditation, and writing, but add some drawing and discussion.

If you’re in the Portland area and want to attend the retreat, more information and a link to register are here:

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