The process of creating is as much about the time spent not creating—and how you use that time in service to creativity—as it is about the time spent actively engaging with making art.

I am a huge walker and daydreamer. I might say that I’m a professional daydreamer. And that’s always been the case: the desire and ability to send my mind elsewhere and make new worlds. So a lot of my process still has to do with giving myself the space and time to just open to making a world in my mind long before it ends up on the page.

– poet Gabrielle Calvocoressi

But artists often forget this: Creativity needs good preparation, internal space, having idle time to dream and imagine. Setting an inviting stage for our creativity to feel welcome to come out and play. And also taking in new sources of inspiration.

All of this is part of our creative lives. It needs to be valued and included if we expect ourselves to be able to be inspired and keep creating.

If we just show up to make art stressed and distracted, having given no time or space to feed our muse, we are far less likely to be happy with the results.

Foreplay and Afterplay Are Essential to the Muse

Just as with lovemaking, foreplay and afterplay are important to a flourishing creative life. With lovemaking, foreplay and afterplay include not just what you do in bed, but how you relate to your lover throughout the whole day.

Foreplay includes how loving, playful, appreciative, romantic, sexy and sensual you are throughout your lives, as well as how thoughtful and attentive you are to the needs and feelings of your beloved. Connecting deeply with your beloved.

Afterplay includes lying in the arms of your beloved, relaxing together, staying connected, appreciating one another, and being kind and loving after you rise from bed.

Treat Your Muse Like Your Beloved

I recommend you think of your muse, your unique creative spark, as your beloved.

Ask yourself:  How do you romance your creativity throughout your day? How do you nourish and inspire and excite your muse with things that light her up, feed her, regenerate her? How do you entice her and court her?

And how do you appreciate her after you finish creating for the day? Do you revel in her gifts and express your love for what you’ve been given? Do you let yourself enjoy the afterglow of having created?

If you immediately fall into judging what you have made, that is not loving afterplay. How likely will she be to give you more creative gifts?

Romance Your Muse

Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss by Antonio Canova

Find ways to romance your muse. Give her some open time and space to dream, an inviting environment in which to create, and inspiration to draw upon.

This does not have to be huge or expensive. A fifteen minute walk before going into the studio may work wonders. Or reading a few inspiring poems before you begin creating. Or taking a few minutes to meditate or listen to the wind. Bringing some colorful, playful or beautiful items into your creative space—even if that space is your kitchen table. Checking some art books out of the library.

And, encourage and appreciate your muse after you have created. Enjoy the process of creating and enjoy the after-glow of having made time for what you love. Give yourself appreciation for making the time to create at all.

To your loving, sexy relationship with your muse,