There you have it: The Idea.
You're sitting in front of your sketch pad, turning page after page after page, drawing, drawing, drawing. You add a bit here, you take away a bit there, you move this to the bottom and that to the top.
Perhaps you're working from some physical reference in front of you. You stare at it so intensely that your eyes are burning through the object to the other side. Or maybe you're working from something that doesn't exist in this physical universe: it's some thing you have inside your head, a shape, a color, a line.
You draw, draw, draw, you paint, paint, paint, or whatever it is that you do when you pick up your tools. It's starting to come together.
Maybe you have no clue what it will look like when you're done, but at this moment, what you see in your head and what you see on the page in front of you are starting to coalesce, starting to look like the same thing.
It's starting to look like, well, The Idea.
Something intervenes. The phone rings, the dog barks, you stretch your back and go for a cup of coffee.
When you return to the page, something is different. The momentum you had just a moment ago is gone. That intangible something which you had in the palm of your hand has vanished.
What do you do?
There is a point in the life of every gardener when the seeds have sprouted. They have been fed, they have been weeded. They have been carefully cultivated. All that remains is to wait for rain.
Waiting for rain is hard to do. It never seems to fall quite when you want it to. Irrigation is a luxury, not everyone can afford it. Most of us are stuck in our studios at times like these, fiddling with tools, shuffling papers, waiting, hoping that the magic moment when the idea was a very real thing will happen again. We wait for rain.
What do you do at this point?
Do you keep working at a process that is standing still, refining and rearranging, hoping that incremental changes will bring about the results you desire?
Do you walk away from it and dip your hands into another task, hoping that you will transplant some creativity?
Do you pick up a book to escape, certain that your journey away from your piece of art will lead you back at the end of the chapter?
Do you prowl through a magazine, hoping for inspiration to strike you again?
Do you get involved in some totally mundane mindless task, to keep the rhythm of working?
Do you leave the studio all together, planning to return when the rain begins to fall?
As you probably realize by now, there are no correct answers to these questions. Every artist, over time, and with much experience, develops techniques, little tricks, to restart the process.
For some artists, and perhaps you are one of them, simply staring at the piece of paper for a long enough period of time is sufficient to seed the clouds of their souls so the rains may begin to fall.