Honoring Your Creative Cycles

Posted by on January 19, 2016

McKella Sawyer

Cycles of creativity is a concept I’m only beginning to explore in myself, and I’ve written about it a couple times here and here.

It basically comes down to this: There are times when we naturally feel more creative and times when we don’t, and these periods of downtime are when we need to rest and draw in inspiration. These cycles can happen over the period of a few hours, a day, a month, a year, and even entire lifetimes!

These cycles happen in nature as well. Think of the lunar cycle, seasons, and the life cycles of plants. The moon waxes and wanes. Plants take root, grow, flower, then die, and many will do it all again next season. As the earth turns, the seasons cycle from spring to summer to fall and finally, to winter, which is a time of rest, reflection, and preparation for the next cycle of growth.

We as humans are a part of nature (though we often forget this), so it makes sense that we operate on these cycles as well.

This has really hit me hard this winter, which is my season of eating chocolate and feeling tired. I still get some energetic bursts at certain times of the day during the winter, though they’re less powerful than the ones I get in the summer. I also have moments of profound exhaustion, but they’re MUCH heavier than tiredness I feel at other times of the year.

Exhibit A: The photo above was taken at 1pm on a sunny winter day. I went for a walk. I didn’t run like I often do in the summer, but I felt energetic, calm, and happy.

Exhibit B: The picture below was taken on the same day at 7pm. That would be me lying on the floor of my studio under a fluffy blanket listening to chill music on my Lisa Frank headphones. Why? Because that’s ALL had the energy to do.


McKella Sawyer


This whole cycle thing is a pretty new revelation for me, so I don’t have all the answers yet, but I do know this: if you pay attention, you’ll observe these cycles in yourself over the course of a day, the month, and a year. There will be times where you have tons of energy and times when even microwaving a Lean Cuisine sounds like too much work. There will be times of work, growth, of making things happen, and times where you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

So take a little time to observe this.

Some things to think about:

At what times of the day do you feel most energetic? Are you a morning person or do you want to strangle anyone who tries to speak to you before 10am. Do you like to stay up late? Do you really get going after lunch?

How do you feel in the summer, and how do you feel in the winter? Do you stay pretty steady all year or do your energy levels vary wildly? (That second one would be me.)

If you’re a woman, how do you feel during the different stages in your menstrual cycle? (Yes, this has a HUGE effect on our energy and creativity too!) Are there weeks where you want to take on the world and others when you want to sleep most of the day?

This might be something you want to journal about or maybe even track in a planner. It might take awhile for you to notice a pattern, but I promise that patterns will emerge.

Once you notice how your energy and creativity waxes and wanes, what do you do with that information? You can’t just plan your life around your cycles, right? You have crap to do!!!

I totally understand. Even if you can’t take entire winters off from work or kick your kids out of the house for a whole week, what CAN you do to honor your need for creativity and productivity or alternatively, your need for rest, reflection, and inspiration?

Here are some ideas:

-If you can, plan big projects, parties, and tasks when you’ll most likely have the energy for them. This might mean a certain week of your menstrual cycle or pushing most of your big home improvement projects to the summer if that’s when you have the most energy.

-Do the most difficult tasks that require the most focus at the time of day when you tend to feel most energetic.

-On the flip side, save the easier, lower-energy tasks for the times of day when you don’t have as much juice.

-Save some of your vacation time for a season when you know you’ll need more rest.

-If you still have a lot to do when your energy is low, do what little you can to acknowledge and honor your lower energy. Put on some soft music and sip tea while you work on that big project for work. Wear your coziest sweater. Close your eyes and take some deep breaths every few minutes.

-If you don’t feel like creating during your periods of lower energy, use that time to journal, read, look at art, whatever inspires you and allows you to reflect. When you’re energy picks up, get in your creative space and play!

These cycles are a big part of creativity and life in general. Have you noticed these patterns in your own life? How do you honor them? I’d love to hear your ideas! 


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