Autumn Leaves, Seasonal Depression, and the Ebbs and Flows of Creativity | Blog 10/14/22

Featured image: Some of my favorite witchy stuff, plus the clicky keyboard I’ve been really enjoying for writing my novel.

“Anyone who thinks fallen leaves are dead has never watched them dancing on a windy day.”

– Shira Tamir

Content warning: This blog entry contains some discussion of mental health issues. Please read at your discretion and only when it feels safe to do so.

Autumn is my favorite time of the year in terms of weather and energy. October is when I feel magic more palpably than in any other month of the year. It’s not just the witchy decorations and movies playing constantly, nor the approach of Halloween/Samhain/the Equinox. For me, October is magic through and through, not just on the 31st.

However, for those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere and also living with seasonal affective disorder or other seasonal sensitivity, the magic and beauty of this season can also be tinged with either the onset of symptoms or the apprehension thereof. My seasonal depression usually fades in around or after Christmas, or in mid-December at the earliest, but this year it hit me like a brick wall around October 5th. 

The two comics I completed this summer.

I’ve had an incredibly productive summer. I finished two comics – a graphic novella, Corvidae, and a ten-page mini comic, The Feline Guide To Grief. Corvidae just went off to the printer for a test print, and I’ll share about that when it comes in. I illustrated more than half of the cards for my upcoming Path of the Magdalene oracle deck. I knocked out the first 10,000 words of a novel (yes, really). And I was poised to start really focusing on the game project my partner and I have been toying with all year and really want to bring into existence.

And then, suddenly, I was in the depths of depression and creativity felt more like a remembered dream than something I could feel every day. 

At this point, having started Q4 strong and then almost immediately hit this wall of depression and non-productivity, I am torn. On the one hand, I believe strongly in being patient with oneself creatively, not pushing to the point of burnout, and surfing the ebbs and flows of creative energy in our lives rather than holding ourselves to an inhuman standard of “same level of work all the time.” On the other hand, however, I have worked hard to establish good habits around my creativity, and I do believe in “showing up at the page” no matter what. Even if nothing happens there, I try to get into my studio space every day, to maintain the habit and mindset of “I am an artist. I make stuff. This is who I am.”

It’s hard to know how to proceed when all of you – your Muse, your schedule, your space, and your conscious self – stands ready to create, and then depression or anxiety or other illness hits hard. Different solutions are going to be right for different people at different times. I do believe that sometimes “just show up for your art anyway” is the answer. But I also believe that, other times, “take a break, drop the paintbrush, and get some damn rest” is the answer.

Ebb and flow in creativity is not something I like to embrace, but I think I need to right now.

For me, right now? I don’t know. I am following my Muse wherever she shows up, doing whatever project feels doable in a given moment. Right now, at least this week, the creativity is (or feels) infrequent and inconsistent. I don’t enjoy that; my creative personality is that of the “scheduled artist” – I’m someone who can put art on a schedule, and get it done, and enjoy it. I actually thrive creatively more when I have a relatively firm schedule. But I think this season of my life, or at least this month, is one where I need to embrace the ebb of my creativity until it returns to a flow state.

Maybe I’m being challenged this way for a reason. Maybe it serves some larger purpose for me as a creative being. Or maybe seasonal affective disorder just seriously sucks. Maybe some of both.

Even from the “back-end” side of my site, the range of posts this year is pretty minimal.

I had intended, at the beginning of Q4 (October/November/December), to post a blog here every sinlge Monday. Clearly, it is not Monday when this is going up. And maybe this, too, is happening for a reason – maybe I’m meant to learn to be a bit more free-flowing with my blogging, too. It’s hard to not feel discouraged when my schedule gets thrown off right away. But I will keep at it. Because that’s what we do as creatives. Whether you are a “schedule-friendly artist” who shows up at a set time, a free-wheeling artist who just works when the Muse calls, or something in between – as long as you are going with your style, doing what works for you and your creativity – you are “doing it right.” 

I guess I just need to trust that I am, too.

Wishing you all a wonderful week, or few days, or month – however long it takes until I have energy to blog again. And until next time: Be safe. Be well, whatever that looks like for you. And, if it’s healthy for you to do so…go make something today.

xo Taylor

Taylor Johnson is a multi-discipline artist and author from the Northern Virginia area in the US. She is the creator of two independently published divination decks – the Millennial Mystic Tarot and the Hekate Oracle – and a mini-comic, The Feline Guide to Grief. Currently she is working on the upcoming Path of the Magdalene Oracle (July 2023); the graphic novel Corvidae (2023, exact date TBD); and a contemporary novel (totally TBD).

All photos and content (c) Taylor Johnson.

Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Headed, and Projects Along The Way | 10/2/22

Consistency in creativity is something I value, something I believe in. I trust consistent effort. It works for me. While some artists do their best work in brief, intense sessions – “binge writing,” say, or “painting marathons,” or twelve-hour-a-day weekend retreats – I feel that I do my best work when I am steady, consistent, and simply put a little time in on a regular basis. My Muse is most likely to show up when we have a scheduled date. And I, myself, am most likely to create if I have been creating recently. 

Over the past two years, consistency has become a past luxury, something I never learned to appreciate until these chaotic years turned it into a mere memory. I remember times when I could simply work every morning at the same time and get work done regularly. Those times disappeared. Between COVID and the absolute uproar across the nation I live in, 2020 was a blur of panic. 2021 was somehow more chaotic, at least for me personally. I was working a legitimately abusive, minimum-wage retail job. And at home, my apartment had become an incredibly dangerous place to be. It took months leading up to the actual event, but then I moved and changed jobs within a single week, and boxed up and moved my entire life inside of 72 hours. Then I spent the end of 2021 and the first half of 2022 unpacking (literally and figuratively) after that desperate move and getting used to the new job.

I tried not to rush. I gave myself space to just be, just breathe, and process. It took time. Some aspects of creativity returned more quickly than others. The evening of the day I quit my retail job, I found myself able to sketch again. By January I was able to at least toy with new creative ideas and write down ideas. Over winter, I sketched out a comic; I wrote a little; I did a lot of sewing. By the end of the summer, I’d finished my first graphic novella, plus a separate mini comic. And in the past few months, I wrote the guidebook and illustrated the first twenty-five cards in my new oracle deck.

But I didn’t blog. The thing is, I had told myself “I’ll start blogging again once I start creating again.” And…I totally didn’t start again, not instantly. I gradually restarted most of my creative efforts, but somehow, in my list of things to revive in my creative life, the blog fell by the wayside. Until today.

It’s going to take a while to catch you up on everything I’ve been doing, but for now, here are just a few highlights of what I’ve worked on since the last time I did any regular blogging.


I wrote and illustrated two comics in 2022 – The Feline Guide to Grief and CORVIDAE. 

The Feline Guide to Grief is the tangible product of a grieving process I went through in May. On a Wednesday at 12:45 in the morning, our family’s beloved black cat became violently ill. Everyone else was away, and despite my best efforts and veterinary intervention, he died that night. The following days were a blur of shock for me. I processed the loss by writing and illustrating this ten-page comic. It was deeply healing for me – and, to my surprise, has also been healing for others. You can read The Feline Guide to Grief online, here on this website.

CORVIDAE is one part horror comic, one part revenge fairytale, and one part manifesto on the collective experience of harassment and sexual violence on public transportation. I took the bus for seven long years and part of what drove me to get a loan (that I didn’t want) and a car (that I didn’t feel I logistically needed) was the constant harassment and the underlying fear of sexual assault. I am all for reducing car emissions and I feel that public transit could be a great solution. But it will not be a fair solution until women (and nonbinary, gender-non-conforming, and trans people) can take the bus as safely as men do. (If you’re curious about the statistics, there aren’t many studies out there, but this article is a great summary of this study from 2020. Both are excellent.)

Card Decks

My current divination deck project is the Path of the Magdalene Oracle. I’ve fully illustrated 25 of the 44 cards, and I am so excited about this one. I’ve previously authored and illustrated two divination decks, the Millennial Mystic Tarot and the Hekate Oracle, but the Path of the Magdalene is the first one I’m doing entirely digitally. The Path of the Magdalene is scheduled to be published in summer 2023, on Mary Magdalene’s feast day, which is July 22. The guidebook is already written, and with that and more than half the cards done, I feel confident saying that (at least for right now) I am on schedule.

Game Dev

Game development and 3D modeling are two things I really love – and rarely make time for. It saddens me when I don’t make time for them, though, so the past quarter (Q3 2022) and this one upcoming (Q4), I’m making a really concerted effort to carve out time for it. My partner and I are working on a game now that we are really excited about, so I’ll hopefully be able to share more about that soon. 


I’ve never posted much about my novel writing on, mostly because there isn’t much overlap between the years of my life when I was writing much, and the years I’ve had this blog. So, for those of you who aren’t aware: I have actually been a novelist since my teenage years. I used to write novels pretty much constantly, and then self-doubt and fear of success put the whole writing part of my life on pause. Now, however, I’ve decided to stop wasting the years and get back to noveling. I’m only working in spare moments right now, since I already have so much on my plate; however, once the Path of the Magdalene Oracle is complete, I intend to take the time I’ve been using for that and devote it to a novel. I’ve already settled on which novel, and it even has a working title, but all that is staying under wraps for now. 

Another detail I’ll share at some point, and another reason I haven’t posted about my novels here on this site, is that I’m seriously considering using a pen name for when I do publish my novels and/or graphic novels and comics. Again, I pretty much have it picked out, but I’m not quite ready to announce it yet. Subscribe to this blog to be notified when I do!

There is more to update you all on, but since this single blog is now well over 1000 words, I’m going to close up for now. If you’d like to keep following my creative journey, feel free to sign up for notifications so you can know when I post new blogs (only one or two a month, I promise!). And, until next time, be safe. Be well.

And go make some art today!