Ep. 19: The Creativity Quest – Carrying Inner Disquiet

On this insightful episode, we delve into the first stage of the Creativity Quest: the stage of ‘Inner Disquiet’. This phase, although not necessarily the first one you experience, is marked by an uncomfortable longing for self-expression, which can sometimes last for years. Gina shares her personal experiences with this phase both as a writer and as a creativity coach working with other writers, and discusses her time in the corporate world when she felt an overwhelming sense of dissatisfaction stemming from her unfulfilled desire to write.

Melody and KimBoo share how they experience ‘Inner Disquiet’, leading to an enlightening discussion on recognizing this stage as a crucial precursor to creative growth. Melody likens it to the germination stage of a seed – a quiet but vital phase where the real magic happens below the surface, and how it relates to the season of Winter in traditional five-season medicine. Tune in to explore this vital aspect of the creative journey and gain insights that can help you navigate your own path!

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Ep. 19: The Creativity Cycle – Carrying Inner Disquiet

Dave Hogan, Gina’s Pop
Welcome to Around the Writer’s Table, a podcast focusing on the crossroads of creativity, craft, and conscious living for writers of all ages and backgrounds. Your hosts are Gina, Melody, and KimBoo, three close friends and women of a certain age, who bring to the table their eclectic backgrounds and unique perspectives on the trials, tribulations, and the joys of writing. So pull up a chair and get comfortable here around the writer’s table.

Melody, A Scout
Welcome again to Around the Writer’s Table. My name is Melody, A scout. And I help my clients find their sense of home by restoring balance and harmony to their lives through plant spirit medicine and my book Soul of the Seasons.

We’re back here today, ready to talk about the creative cycle. And Gina, my co-host created this amazing and brilliant tool to help us understand where we are in our creative process, and tips on how to move through them with as much ease and comfort as possible. Although we’re going to find out today, some steps are less comfortable than others. So joining me today is my good friend and co-writer KimBoo York. KimBoo, can you introduce yourself?

KimBoo York
Oh, if I have to, yes. I am KimBoo York. I am a romance novelist, and a former Project Manager, which I use to help writers and solopreneurs find time, mojo, and motivation to create and run their businesses.

Thanks, and Gina.

Start of the show, Gina.

Gina Hogan Edwards
Hi, ladies. It’s great to be here today. I so love doing this podcast with you all and thank you, listeners, for tuning in. I’m Gina. I am an author, a Creativity Coach, and an editor, and I am passionate about supporting women writers in finding their voices on the page. 

Thanks for tuning in today, we’ve got a lot to talk about. So, last episode, we did an overview of the 10 stages of creativity, and these 10 stages are what I have witnessed manifesting in the women writers who I have worked with over the last couple of decades in terms of their creative journey, the things that they have experienced, the stages that they may or may not get stuck in, what helps them move along, what holds them back. 

So today we’re focusing on the first stage, and I’m gonna say that lightly because the stages really aren’t numbered, because it is a cycle. We go through, we don’t go through the creative cycle linearly. We go through few things linearly, actually. There are cycles in every aspect of our lives. And that is true, in particular for our creativity. So while, if you download our worksheet, you will see that this is put together in an image of a circle, we don’t go straight through that circle 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10. We may loop back through stages. We may repeat things. There may be things that we have to learn or do again before we can move on to the next stage. So even though I’m going to refer to this as the first stage, it may not literally be the first stage that you experience. 

It is, however, a stage at which we are usually not creating but we have this underlying discomfort, that there is something off kilter. We may or may not be able to identify that as being something that’s missing—namely, the fact that we are not expressing ourselves. But it is a longing to create some deeper meaning, which I believe is what our self-expression is. This is a stage that we can get stuck in sometimes for years. Been there, done that.

Yeah, I don’t know what you’re talking about. No clue.

It is ideally not a stage that you want to be in for long and, if you are lucky, you are able to either find the inner resources or have someone in your life who can help you move on to the next stage. I want to tell you a little short story about being fortunate that I have somebody in my life that recognized what was going on with me. 

So, many of you know that I came from the corporate world, spent 17 years as a technical editor in an environmental firm. So even though I was doing my writing off and on over the decades, it was not my priority. So, oh, some time maybe, I’m gonna say 15 years ago, I got up one morning in a particularly ornery mood. I was cranky. I was grumpy. I went about my morning of taking my shower and gathering my belongings and preparing to leave for the office. And at some point, I walked into the kitchen and my husband was standing at the island that we have, and he looked across that island at me and said, “You’re not writing are you?” And it hit me between the eyes. 


That yes, even though I didn’t want to be going into the office that day, and even though I was in a burnout stage, the reason that I was so uncomfortable that morning was because I hadn’t been doing my writing. 

So that to me, is how the inner disquiet sort of manifests itself in my life. It’s usually, I’ll get grumpy. I’ll feel like something’s missing, like, there’s something that’s, that I’m grasping for and I can’t quite get to it. And when I refer to my writing, that might be my fiction writing, it might be journaling. It’s when I put words on the page in whatever way I need to to express myself. And when I’m not doing that, that is when I experience this stage of Carrying Inner Disquiet. 

So ladies, I would love to know from each one of you: What, first of all, do you identify with this stage? And if you do, how does it feel for you. Maybe, how does it feel in your body? Or how does it manifest in your life? How does inner disquiet show up for you?

Well, this is Melody, and listening to you listening, Gina, describe your experience when you hadn’t been writing, I just so related, I get itchy and rashy and cranky and restless. I feel it physically, as well as emotionally. And as I mentioned, in the last episode, I have learned over time, that this is not something to be avoided or examined or criticized, this period of time. But it’s a signal to me that I’m getting ready to do some new growth if I don’t resist it.

Hmmm, that’s beautiful. And I’m so glad that you said that because even though my description of this inner disquiet was a little bit dark, it isn’t a bad stage. I mean, it can feel icky and uncomfortable, but it is a necessary stage because sometimes that longing for more meaning and that recognition that something is off-kilter is all of the ideas that are just dying to get out of you.

You know, this reminds me of the talks that we’ve had, Melody, when we were covering Spring of the seasons in our previous episodes throughout last year, which I highly encourage people to go listen to, because I’m thinking this all sounds like seeds germinating, because I kind of imagined at some point, or, you know, crab switching out its shell or something like that, molting. Not an attractive concept, but the idea is, like, you’re too big for it. You got to break out. You’re itching. You feel cramped. You feel small and you’re just like there’s more than this and you’re kind of breaking the shell. And I was thinking of Spring on that matter, when you were, when the both of you were talking just now. It’s like, oh, this is like the seed germination thing. This is like getting ready to bust out.

Oh, that’s absolutely true. And I would like to back it up even further, as part of the season of late Fall into Winter, and I see this more as a season when not when there’s no creativity happening, but there is no visible creativity going on. 

Yeah, okay. 

Yeah, because like the seed that’s laying in the soil for that period of germination, it gets the right temperature, it gets the right moisture, it starts to swell, it becomes uncomfortable in its little encasement that’s kept it safe until now. And it has to bust that shell open. And even after it busts open, there is a period where it spends time making roots before a lot’s going on, but it goes on below the surface. So one of the things that’s kind of irritating for me during this part of the process, I am like judging, there’s nothing going on. I’m not doing anything. What the heck? 

Oh, that’s a good point.

You know, and giving myself trouble about it when the truth is, there’s nothing going on visibly. And then when Spring comes, the right environment, the right temperatures, then that seedling busts out of the ground, and you know, a lot happens after that.

Mmmm. Yes, yes. And yes.

And yes. 

So, KimBoo, tell us, how does it manifest for you? What does, what does this stage hold for you?

Well, I worked really hard to deflect this question. So now I’m annoyed that you came back around to me,

I noticed that.

They know me too, y’all. They knew me too. Well, I, as I talked about, in the last episode, when we were introducing these, I really related to this particular, you know, part of the cycle with a lot of the work that I do. And if people don’t know me, as Gina talked about last time, I tend to have a lot of projects going at the same time. I’m a pantser and I just jump into a project then I work on it. As Melody was talking to us, we were talking about the seeds and the growth, I realized that I actually hit this cycle a lot through even one single story. Because what ends up happening is that I write to a certain point and then it’s kind of like burying the seed. Like, at that point, the story is the seed and I’m burying it, and it has to put down new roots. And you know, I don’t want to carry the metaphor out to a painful point, but…

You let it go dormant again.

I let it go dormant. Yeah, that’s a great phrase for it until it’s ready, ready to break free, and, you know, come back up. And the thing that really struck me was your comment, Melody, about feeling bad about that. Because as a professional author, especially a professional genre author, there’s so much pressure on us to produce a lot, because professionally speaking, that is how we make money. And so you’re, I’ve been trained and taught and lectured at over the years to keep my output at a very high, high level. And I’m realizing as we’re talking that, that as an intuitive writer, that is not what works best for me. Because I do need this time of inner disquiet, of re-grounding a story to let it reach that point so that I can explore it again. 

So for me as I’m experiencing the inner disquiet, it’s basically telling me: oh, that story is ready to be rejuvenated or to come alive again or to break free again, you’ve got something else to add to it. And I should be more tolerant and respectful and kind to myself, I guess. Sorry to bring you into my therapy session here. But I’m realizing that I need to understand that as part of my process, which I guess is what you’re getting at with the whole creativity cycle. Right, Gina? Like, this is all part of the process. 


You can’t skip that step. As much as we might be like I don’t want to feel inner disquiet that sucks. But I’m seeing very clearly, it’s important.

Oh, well, absolutely. And FYI, that high level, sustained productivity, it is an illusion that doesn’t work for anyone. 


It’s just not reality. But we have bought into that belief system, that that’s what, that’s when you’re really, quote, doing something, is if you’re in productivity mode all the time.

It’s terrible. 

And that’s just bullshit, in my humble opinion,

Accepting this stage has been a challenge for me because of exactly what Melody mentioned about the self-judgment and believing that nothing’s going on when, really, something under the surface is. And one of the ways that I see this having manifested specifically in one of my projects, because as I’ve mentioned, you can be at different stages in this creative cycle. If you’re working on multiple projects, at the same time, you might be in a different spot. Okay, so I’ve been working on this novel, for a long time, for a really, really long time. And it’s not that I’ve been working on it constantly. It’s because I have had these obviously stages of when I’ve needed to do other things in my life. But also there have been times when I’ve either not been emotionally ready or not had the skills to write a particular portion of the work, or maybe just didn’t want to really, couldn’t really live into it, because maybe the character or the circumstances in that part of the story were challenging. And I had gotten to a stage in the novel that has really hung me up for a long time. 

And about two months ago, what I realized is I am not, I kept thinking that I was hung up on that stage, because I didn’t know what happened next. But that’s not it. What it is, is that my portrayal of one of the main characters was off-kilter. I was portraying her and certain aspects of her personality and things that happened to her—that are important to the story—I was showing them to the reader too soon. 

And so it wasn’t that I didn’t know what was going to happen next, because I can fill in those scenes. What was holding me up and what was putting me back into this feeling of having this inner disquiet was this subconscious recognition that my character Gwen is not really conveyed the way I imagined her.


Ding, ding, ding, what do we have for her, Johnny? 

A lot of work ahead. That’s what we’ve got.

There’s good news. And there’s bad news.

But I mean, even with the work ahead, it’s like, if you finally get that clear direction, isn’t that sort of like that sigh of relief? And it reminds me also of, I mean, figuring these out, when we get in these stuck cycles, you have to put your detective hat on, because it’s not always the obvious thing. You know, so I think both in Gina’s creativity cycle and the creative seasons, the seasons as a writing process, you will have to go and look at the imbalances and each of those episodes and worksheets, and you’ll have to start with the most obvious one and work your way around. 

Now, Gina, you told in your story about writing at the very beginning, that, you know, you were, had this corporate job that demanded a lot of your time, which you’ve talked about before that you needed some releasing, before you could move forward with it. And you released that job. Not all of our releases are going to be that big. But the understanding that I can’t move forward with this, and I can’t hold all the plates in the air at the same time and do this thing. So I would say gently, go back through each step and each season, and see what it feels like. Feed it those things. If you look at the list of the balance things and all our worksheets, that’s the things you need to feed yourself. If you suspect there’s an imbalance, start feeding yourself those things and the things in the creativity cycle and see what your response is. And that way you’ll know how best to support yourself. This takes a lot of self-awareness, to be a creative person.

One of the most beneficial characteristics that I tell my clients is to cultivate the ability to coach themselves.

That’s true.

It’s when we are able to sort of do this self-coaching, to become aware of the things that are holding us back, that actually allow us to move into the next stage. And one of the things I had mentioned when we did the overview was that we can repeat stages. We can loop back through stages multiple times. Sometimes the, I’ll call them ‘crises’ but that’s a big word. But sometimes the crises that we might go through at any particular stage will ebb and flow in their intensity. And actually, sometimes we may skip right over a stage altogether. But typically, when we go from Carrying Inner Disquiet and we are ready to move to the next stage, that next stage we call Releasing, and that’s what we’re going to be covering on our next podcast. So before we completely wrap it up today, is there anything else that either one of you would like to say about this Carrying Inner Disquiet stage?

I think it’s a great starting place for people. I think it’s easy to get hung up in this, this cycle. And I’m really looking forward to hearing about it more. I also want to ask the question about, do you think as we go through the cycles, do we skip over spaces? Or is it we’ve done the work necessary where we don’t need to linger in them? So the time in them may be very brief? Yeah.

The second one. That’s my observation is that when we reach a particular stage, we may not stay there long because we’ve done the work in that stage that we need to do, and so we just seemingly skip over it to the next stage.

And that kind of brings to mind the idea that I’m just now coming to see, you know, as an intuitive writer, discovery writer, pantser, whatever you want to call it, is that some of these stages may rely also on how you approach your work. Because obviously, the disquiet stage is something I’m going to be encountering more, because that’s an important part of my whole writing process through the story of the book, right? 

So it might be that, you know, people who are planners who really plan and map things out with outlines, you know, their disquiet stage may be super short, they’re like, Oh, I’m feeling disquiet, I need to sit down and write an outline, and then they’re in the Release stage right away. And I’m super jealous of that, but it’s not how I write. So, you know, I think that’s a factor too, maybe. 

I would also say that pantsers who are seeking their way out of the uncomfortable may attempt to outline, not recognizing that they’re pantsers and not wanting to be uncomfortable. And so if you’ve outlined and it’s not worked for you consider that maybe you’re a discovery writer, or a pantser, or whatever you want to call it, rather than forcing yourself into this outlining process as an attempt to relieve the discomfort.

Yeah, I can speak of that one from long, bitter experience.

Just chuckling because I know it all too well. And it brings also something to mind. As we talked about previously, in when we went through this seasons of the creative writing process is that sometimes we’re stuck in a certain cycle of our work and sometimes we’re stuck in a certain cycle in our personal lives. So if you’ve gone through all the things, and checked it off and not feeling that you’ve come to a good resolution or moving forward, you might ask, “Where in my personal life, do I feel stuck?” 

I give the examp– Yeah, and I gave the example in my book about a woman who was having, she called in, I was on a talk show and said, “In the season of fall, it’s about letting go, and it’s hard for us to let go; it involves grief, even if it’s letting go of the things we want to let go of.” And I said, “Show me a hoarder and I’ll show you someone with unresolved grief.” 

And this woman wrote in later and said, told me all about this experience. She had her garage filled with her mother’s personal belongings, and her aunt’s as well, and it had been there three years. And she said that statement hit her between the eyes, and so she was able to complete some grieving about these losses and move forward and be able to complete that task. 

So sometimes the thing we need to move through or give attention to is within us personally. And I would say, most of the time. My, in my personal experience, if I’m stuck in a certain, continue to be stuck in a certain phase or cycle or season of the creative process, it is something within me that I am resisting or that I don’t want to deal with that discomfort.

One thing that I’m not sure I noted at the beginning and intended to was that these first five stages are heavy in inner work. And then the second five stages are more outer work and involve other people and external things. Whereas these first five are definitely the inner work. So what you described fits perfectly into that, Melody.

Yeah, that was interesting, when you mentioned that in our last episode, when you were introducing the cycle, the creative cycle, which I thought was really interesting, because I hadn’t really, like I’ve saw your handout, like I’ve seen you working on this, and I just hadn’t picked up on that before. 

And, yeah, now it’s back to our idea of self-coaching. I mean, listeners, if you’re listening in, this is really the reason we started this whole podcast. We wanted to talk and share our experiences of how we’ve had to work through these things, and share with other people so that maybe they could do it a little bit faster, or more, a little bit in depth or a little bit more, you know, productively, however they wanted to attack it. 

But it’s been a real issue, is the internal struggles that I’ve had as a writer, because just sitting down and writing can sometimes be easy, but it’s all the rest of it that can really screw you over.

Yeah, yeah, we want the writing to be the fun part. 

And conversely, when we do identify those areas that, where we’ve been stuck in, then start reintroducing some balance back into our lives, or within us personally, some of those things that seemed like these big, mountainous things that are hard to overcome, they kind of just naturally come about where we’re able to move through those and get through them without this, you know, big, gut-wrenching, you know, effort that we feared might be the case.

Yeah, Melody, I appreciate you as we’re talking about these 10 stages of talking us through how these stages parallel with the five seasons of writing and the seasons as you talk about them in your book Soul of the Seasons. And so, you know, these examples, if you will, these models of processes vary, but have a lot of connections and overlap. And so we’re offering these in different ways so that you, the listener, can find what works for you, can find, you know, take pieces of what Melody talks about in the language that she uses that work for you. Take what I talk about, take what works for you, and leave the rest. But hopefully there’s something here that will help you live a more thriving creative life.

Absolutely. And when we post our podcasts, we have conveniently added all these lovely worksheets with exercises in them and that can be easily printed off and compiled into a workbook. So I invite you to check that out on our Facebook page. There’s one for each of our episodes. And Gina, can you give us a little sneak peek of our next episode?

Yes. So, once we are ready to move beyond carrying that inner disquiet, have gotten to that place in whatever way we have, which will look different for each of us, the next stage is called Releasing. And it’s about, you know, cracking that shell that KimBoo referred to earlier or maybe cracking the seed pod that we’re in, releasing and letting go of the things that are holding us back. So we’ll talk about that in a lot more detail and where that takes us in terms of the next places that we might go after that.

It’s going to be, I’m super excited. I’m loving getting into this. And as you were saying earlier, Gina, seeing how it works with the Soul of the Seasons paradigm of looking at some of these things for creative writers. And so this is exciting for me, because I’m learning a lot as we go along, not just sharing what we’ve already learned. 

As has been mentioned, visit our website, because the worksheets that are there, we usually have a worksheet for every episode. And this one is no exception. There’s going to be ways for you to engage with the material that we’ve talked about today, and the material that we talked about in the last episode. We’re here for you. We got you. Don’t worry about that. If you go to our website and to find these downloadables, please take a moment to leave a comment. We have a comment form, really easy for you to fill out there, right on the website. We’d love to hear your comments. We’d love to hear your suggestions, problems that you’ve having, things that are a challenge for you, so that we can talk about them and maybe help you find a resolution. But…

And that web address is…

Oh, well, that thing. That. What, they don’t need that. Yeah, it’s www.AroundTheWritersTable.com. That’s all one word, no dashes. AroundTheWritersTable.com. So you should be able to find it pretty easily. You can also Google it if you really want to. 

But that’s it for this week. And we really appreciate you all listening in. We’re going to be back again and going over more stuff in more detail. I’m looking forward to it, y’all. Thank you so much.

See you next time.


Thanks for joining us around the writer’s table. Please feel free to suggest a topic or a guest by emailing info@aroundthewriterstable.com. Music provided with gracious permission by Langtry. A link to their music is on our homepage at AroundTheWritersTable.com. Everyone here around the writer’s table wishes you joy in your writing and everyday grace in your living. Take care, until next time.

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