Another kind of constipation

I heard a new phrase the other day, and though the phrase was new to me, I knew immediately what it meant and how it felt. 

My neighbor mentioned to me that he had "creative constipation." It's not the most elegant of phrases, but definitely descriptive. 

Sketched while waiting outside my kids' capoeira class.
I know what it feels like to suffer creative constipation. It's uncomfortable! I think Charlotte Mason understood the feeling, too, and that's why she included nature study, nature journals, living books, poetry, artist study, composer study, handicrafts, and mother culture in her curriculum. These pursuits matter, they are important, and you could even say they are essential for a healthy (un-constipated) life.

The cure for creative constipation is easy, fortunately, and the remedy works instantaneously. All you have to do is do something creative or immerse yourself - for awhile, at least - in the creative work of others. For me, the best cure is working on my nature journal. Reading scripture also is a top cure, as the words in the Bible tap me into God's creation. Working on a craft with my hands, putting effort into making a meal, sitting outdoors and observing what is happening around me, listening to beautiful music, reading literature, looking at artwork and thinking about it....all these things provide relief to creative constipation. 

I took a break from running errands to sketch flowers in a planter I noticed.

Relieving the constipation (really, I need to find another word as this one is getting off-putting in repetition!), isn't hard and it doesn't take that much time. The remedy, for me, is putting creative work first in my day. Before the day's tasks begin, before breakfast, before taking a shower, if I start my day immediately with something creative, the constipation is cleared. Once I put creative work first by giving it my first hour, it grows like a weed during the day, and I spot opportunity after opportunity to see creation in almost everything. It's truly a miracle how that works.

The day after the conversation with my neighbor about creative constipation, he knocked on my door and handed me a fistful of colored pencils that he had but didn't use. He is into photography more than drawing, and he knew I would put the pencils to use. I told him it was one of the best presents I ever received, and he said that statement was a gift right back to him. What a sappy conversation, I know! But, it reinforces what I believe about creative work - it brings out the best in us and in each other.

Cherry tomatoes from the farmers' market, sketched using pencils my neighbor gave me.

As I write this, I'm also in the midst of putting together next year's homeschooling plan. Despite all the chatter around me about college requirements and testing standards, I'm putting our creative work as top priority with the faith that the energy - and relief -  we receive from it will carry us through the other demands in our lives.


  1. Yes, not a very elegant term. Eww. But I get the gist of it. Lovely drawings, those.

    Next years homeschooling plans? I do need to get moving on those.

    Lovely post!
    From joy to joy,

  2. I <3 this post! Thanks for sharing

  3. Nancy, perhaps I should've changed the term to something a bit, well, less eww-ish!

    April, nice to see a comment from you.

    Hope everyone is doing something creative today, anything at all!