(This is part three of a four-part series on the phases of creation. (Here are parts one and two if you missed them.) Everything you ever birth, be it a baby, a book, a business, or a brunch, goes through these four phases. They sync up with the seasons, the lunar cycle, the menstrual cycle, and the planting cycle. Once you know what they are and use them consciously you can add some serious rocket fuel to your creations and your creative process. And when you’re ready here’s part four!)
Within a few months of my first book, Money: A Love Story, coming out, I felt totally lost.
I remember sitting at a wedding with my friend Marie Forleo one month after the publishing date and telling her that all I felt like doing was obsessing over wedding decor on Pinterest (I was getting married that summer).
I had zero chomp for growing our business. My desire and creativity around going deeper on the money conversation with my community had dried up.
Even though Hay House had asked for another book because the first one was selling so well, I just didn’t have it in me, so I had to say, “Not yet.”
Honestly, I felt like there was something wrong with me because I didn’t have the next big idea. I felt like everyone else knew exactly what they were doing, and I was the only one adrift.
Over the next year I channeled my energy into planning a gorgeous wedding and getting in the best shape of my life. Business stayed steady, but I didn’t feel inspired by it.
Over a year later, I still felt stuck. I sent an email to a few of my nearest and dearest that said:
I’m feeling kind of dried up creatively. I feel like what I’m putting out in the world is okay but not great. It’s not the epic truth of my soul, that’s for sure. It doesn’t feel new. It doesn’t feel interesting. It doesn’t feel good enough. It kind of feels like I’m a charlatan and this whole personal growth leader thing is all total bullshit and probably I should switch careers.
Mike booked me a writing retreat to help me get out of my funk, but instead of writing I sat in my hotel room and cried for 3 days.
Soon after, I got pregnant and proceeded to nap through my entire pregnancy. Then I went through a birth experience and first year of motherhood that brought me to my knees in terms of a level of difficulty and intensity I never could have imagined.
AND AFTER WINTER COMES THE SPRING
About a month after my daughter’s first birthday, I felt a pang of inspiration around a business idea unlike anything I’d felt in over three years. From that spark, which started out as a blog post about making Mother Nature your financial planner, Origin™ was birthed. (Get on the waitlist to be the first to know when enrollment for this membership community about reimagining motherhood and entrepreneurship opens again!)
I didn’t know until it was over that the three-plus years I felt adrift creatively was a fallow period that I now understand was a Fertile Void.
THE GIFTS OF THE FERTILE VOID
The Fertile Void is the creative phase where we:
- Hang out in the unknown
- Lay fallow
It’s the same energy as the season of winter, the new moon, and the phase of the menstrual cycle where we bleed.
Because I was raised in a culture that celebrates productivity above all, I thought I was doing something wrong during this time. I thought I sucked. I thought that I should possibly quit my business and become a bank teller.
But now I know that there’s no way the work I feel so deeply passionate about now, the material that feels like it’s bubbling up from my soul, could have come forth if it hadn’t been for that three-year period of feeling adrift.
Deep, true creativity doesn’t emerge despite the deep pause; it emerges because of it.
When we’re in the Fertile Void it often feels deeply uncomfortable, both because taking a break for contemplation, integration, and rest isn’t valued by our culture, but also because it takes pressure to create a diamond.
The key to getting the most out of this inevitable and necessary phase in the process of creation is to embrace it as such.
When we push up against the season we’re in, we miss out on the gifts available for us.
But when we fully embrace it, we reap the rewards.
So, next time you feel lost, confused, exhausted, or like you have no clue what you’re doing, celebrate. You’ve reached a new, critical season in your creative cycle. When you embrace the Fertile Void, your creations have greater depth and impact.
And remember, just as springtime always follows winter, there’s an inevitable spark of creativity that follows the Fertile Void. (I call it Emergence and I share how to make the most of it here.)
You don’t need to expend unnecessary energy in the Fertile Void wondering if you’ll ever emerge from the underworld again. You will. It just takes as long as it takes.
I wish I hadn’t felt lost for three years. But I did. That’s what I needed.
I know I’ll descend again during my next trip through the phases of creation. It might be three years, it might be more. It might be less. I’ll never know how long it will take, and neither will you.
What we can know, however, is that we’re at the right place at the right time, doing the right thing. The more we embrace it instead of push against it, the deeper we’ll go and the higher we’ll fly.
OVER TO YOU:
Have you ever experienced a Fertile Void? What did it feel like to you? What did you learn? Tell me about your experience in the comments!