Fallow: —adj, 1. (of land) left unseeded after being ploughed and harrowed to regain fertility for a crop. 2. (of an idea, state of mind, etc) undeveloped or inactive, but potentially useful.
It took me a few different dictionaries to find this particular definition of fallow. The first few definitions I read mentioned fallow as “left unseeded” but didn’t mention the part about “to gain fertility for a crop.” That’s the most important part, to my mind.
There are times in our lives as artists that we put out a lot of content or product. Times when our energy is high and we create and create.
Then there are times when we must lie fallow. Not because we are lazy or uninspired, but because we must “regain fertility” in order to create again.
For the past few months, I’ve been in a very creative place. I’ve written an e-book for blended families that I’ve been thinking about for years, I’ve created and delivered teleclasses and in-person classes, I’ve blogged and journaled and created an outline for a nonfiction book I want to write.
When I was on vacation last week, I fully expected my creative output to continue. My son and I were alone together in a comfortable rented house and I expected to enjoy being outside with him (we were near the beach) and I expected to work on my creative projects when he was sleeping.
But that’s not what happened. All of a sudden, I didn’t feel like doing anything. When my son napped the first day of our vacation, I cleaned the kitchen, then started prepping food for dinner. That’s when I noticed that I didn’t feel like writing.
That never happens!
Rather than berate myself for my lack of motivation, I just observed. I asked myself what I wanted to do.
For a day or so, the answer was, “Watch TV.” I went with it: I saw an episode of The X Factor, which I’d never seen before but totally enjoyed. I was on the edge of my seat, holding my breath, listening to all these hopeful young people singing their hearts out.
On Wednesday, I didn’t feel like watching TV anymore. I wanted to read. And journal. So I did.
By now it had occurred to me that perhaps I needed a little downtime. The word “fallow” popped into my head and it seemed to describe how I was feeling. I remembered the times I’ve run a marathon: I don’t usually run for a few weeks after I finish. I “lie fallow” for a while before I get itchy to start running again.
The same thing happened with my writing. On the very last day of my fun and relaxed vacation, an idea for a novel popped into my head so vividly that I grabbed my iPod and recorded about 5 minutes worth of material without stopping.
Now I have a story to write when NaNo begins. I can hardly wait!
How do you feel about your fallow times?
Diane MacKinnon, MD, is currently a full-time mother, part-time life coach. She is a Master Certified Life Coach, trained by Martha Beck, among others. She is passionate about her son, her writing, and using her mind to create a wonderful present moment. Find her life coaching blog at http://www.dianemackinnon.com/blog.