In Coaching the Artist Within, creativity expert Eric Maisel discusses the mental energy required to create. Unlike physical energy which is based on food/sleep inputs, mental energy depends on your interest, passion, desire, concern – the intensity you apply to creating. Your mental energy is depleted by mental activity, including creating – and not creating! So how do you build and maintain your mental energy?
How Mental Energy is Used
Maisel points out that we use mental energy in both positive and negative ways. Creating requires mental energy. Creative blocks such as procrastination, for instance, also require a high amount of mental energy, thus robbing us of the energy we need to create. (If you have ever been creatively blocked, you know there is nothing more exhausting than that!)
The takeaway here is that we need to protect ourselves against negative energy drains. We must be aware of what builds up our mental energy and what tears it down. And we need to be aware of our energy levels so we know when to rest.
Mental Energy Levels
In Maisel’s view, our mind generates its own mental energy through desire or curiosity or passion.
In contrast, fear or doubt or complexity all steal our precious mental energy.
And to replenish mental energy? Courage or hope or clarity.
Making Meaning Energizes You
In other words, if we are actively engaged in passionately making meaning, our mental energy level naturally stays high. We use that mental energy when we actively create, when we make meaning. But eventually we will exhaust our mental energy and will need to replenish it – we’ll need to rest. (See Artists Need Downtime.) (Would you be able to replenish your mental energy through an Artist Date?)
How do you maintain your mental energy while creating? So what keeps you going? How do you generate more mental energy when you need it? What stops you up short? (Hint: 11 kinds of negative self talk leading to blocks)
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