The Fallow Period

Categories Life, Self

Words do not always come easily.

Precious few words found their way to this space over the last several months – a mere dozen posts since the first of June, and none of them in August. It’s been a strange and wonderful period in which my mind has been filled with words and ideas, but my published page has remained empty.

As I look back over the last few months, I realize it’s a period I can only describe as fallow.

A fallow field is plowed and harrowed, but left unsown. Since ancient times, farmers have utilized the practice of leaving fields fallow in order to improve the quality of the soil and allow for rejuvenation. Doing so results in more fertile soil and, it would logically (and hopefully) follow, healthier and more abundant crops.

I wonder if this process is also true for the creative imagination. Think about it. The term fallow is often used to describe a long period of time in which a writer, musician, or artist produces no new work. It is a period during which very little happens – or in which little seems to happen. But progress is not always marked by tangible or visible means. Perhaps allowing creative energies time to lie fallow may produce similar benefits – rejuvenation, fertility, and abundance. And just as the farmer makes a conscious choice to leave a field uncultivated, the choice to allow a period of creative rest should be no accident. It must be an act of will, an intentional short-term investment in order to yield long-term benefits. There may appear to be no activity, but beneath the surface there is work being done.

It has been a while since I have shared my words with anyone other than my Self. Rather than fear this period of inactivity, though, I have welcomed it. Rather than see it as a sure sign of failure, I believe it is a sure sign of great things to come. Even more than a period of rest for my mind, it has been a period of silent and unseen cultivation for my heart and spirit as well.

I look forward to sharing the fruits of this unseen labor with you.

Lisa A. Listwa is a self-employed writer with experience in education, publishing, and the martial arts. Believing there was more to life than punching someone else’s time clock and inspired by the words of Henry David Thoreau, she traded her life as a high school educator for a life as a writer and hasn’t looked back. She is mother to one glorious handful of a daughter, wife to the nicest guy on the planet, and reluctant but devoted owner of three Rotten Cats. You can find her adventures and thoughts on living life deliberately here on the blog.

19 thoughts on “The Fallow Period

  1. I love your way of looking at it. I think you’re going with your instincts, giving yourself time, respecting your natural flow. I saw a meme or quote by some famous female author (how’s that for ambiguity?) and she said “I’ve never heard a female writer say “you must write every day.”” And then went on to say that as women, we generally don’t have the luxury of sinking endlessly into our writing. I’m going to have to try to find it and share it with you on FB because I’m not doing it justice…

    1. Thanks so much, Gretchen. I think respecting the Self is important always.
      I would definitely love to see that! I think it’s so true, you know? Writers or not, women just have so much that we constantly have to think about. I have sometimes talked myself into believing that I’m somehow “wrong” because I honestly don’t have that gotta-write-every-day-or-I-can’t-breathe feeling. It’s never been like that for me. Just like with anything else in life, I breathe just fine regardless of what I do (or do not) in a day. Forcing it doesn’t work for me. This break has been good, given me time to think about my various projects, what I want to say, and which direction I want to take them.

  2. Hi Lisa! I love the new look! In fact I had to recheck the title to make sure I landed in the right place! 🙂 I think just like rearranging the furniture, it feels good to redo our blog page sometimes, a fresh start. I just did mine this weekend. To me, pages are best when they are easy to read and comment on. I love the garden at the top here, I wish I could see that sitting on my deck! We are cultivating tall weeds with great success after all this rain!

    I love your concept of the fallow field for writers. Words can’t be forced, and I think we tend to get anxious and fearful when they don’t flow. I am slowly learning in life to “let it be”, things have a way of working themselves out. Nothing good ever comes from being forced. Your brain sounds like mine, words and ideas always bouncing around, and I suspect it won’t be long before you find yourself with lots of things to share! Xoxo

    1. Yes, you’re in the right place, Josie! And I may change it again soon. I’m not entirely happy with this theme; it’s just not giving me what I want.
      You summed up exactly what I’ve been feeling. I felt more frustrated trying to write because I “should” and just letting go and letting the ideas simmer has been good.

  3. This is a huge difference in attitude from before, when you were really worried about not writing enough, and I hope it pays HUGE dividends in terms of the quality and quantity (and your own satisfaction) of what you produce. I’ve loved seeing your photos on facebook, and your comments here and there, and though I’ve not been able to read and immerse in your thoughts lately, I don’t feel like you’ve been absent, which is lovely 🙂

  4. Taking the thoughts from your head, and writing, or in most cases, typing them and making them real is more difficult than people believe. Often times, taking a moment to let those thoughts flow and show some clarity is the best way to go. From just reading over this post, I can tell that you are great at writing, and I can’t wait to read your other posts. Welcome back!

  5. Wow. Welcome back to the world of shared writing Lisa. I missed reading your unique view of the world, one which I found comforting and insightful, but I was still glad to see you sometimes on Facebook. I just assumed you were making the most of the summer and spending more time with your family. I didn’t know about the whole fallow field ritual throughout history. I spent lots of time on my uncle’s farms as a kid, but thanks for sharing this because I learned something I did not already know. It makes sense though. I hope it was just the space and time you needed.

    1. Hey, Kerry! Well I definitely was making the most of the summer and it was wonderful. But even in the midst of that, I usually get the words down. I just kind of wanted to step away for a while, get a fresh perspective. Feeling pretty good about the words right now and since fall is like New Year’s for me, I’m ready to go!
      I have cousins who owned a dairy farm when we were kids (maybe still do) and while we didn’t visit there often, I remember it being a very cool thing.

      1. Fall is the same for me, in a lot of ways.. Most see it as one step closer to the cold winter they dread, but I love it because I feel refreshed.
        Yes, well I have never been much of an outdoors, get dirty kind of a girl, even then. Yet, those experiences were helpful to me.

        1. I used to hate winter so much, but the older I get, the more I appreciate that every season has its beauty. Do I love being cold? No. But there’s always a blanket and a cup of tea and a sweater nearby, so I’m grateful for that.
          I’m not much of an outdoorswoman myself – very small doses and no bugs, thank you!

    1. That is a very real pressure, Corinne, and for me at least, cranking out words just to say I did it does not always work. I’m learning to respect my words, respect my inspiration, and put them out there when the time is just right. Thanks or reading!

Conversation is the best part of blogging. I'd love to hear your thoughts...