Is It Creative Self-Care… Or Slacking?

Yesterday I had one of those super frustrating days where no matter what you do, getting in the zone just eludes you.

I faffed around, trying to get stuff done, but it absolutely crawled all day. I did the bare minimum and it took me until 8.30pm to do it.

When I finally went to bed last night, I was still pissed about it, and about all the days I’ve had like this recently. And so I decided that today I was going to be having none of that nonsense and it would be a productive day, SO HELP ME.

And it was. It’s 6:30pm, I’ve written three times as much as I did yesterday, and I’ve set myself an ambitious goal to hit by the end of the month.

It’s a relief to discover my ability to produce a meaningful volume of work hasn’t abandoned me after all.

And it makes me realise, yet again, how much of the writing life is about showing up regularly and cutting yourself off from the option of not doing it.

It’s not about setting yourself lofty word count goals or sitting there gritting it out for hours on end.

It’s about giving yourself a meaningful amount of time in which to do good work, and closing off the part of your brain that insists on whispering about all the other less important things you could be doing.

Now, in these emails I talk a lot about the need to be gentle with your creativity, to be a good steward of your gifts and not to torture yourself in the pursuit of productivity and output all the time.

We live in an environment that worships busy-ness, and I want all of us to think critically about whether that’s really necessary for doing good creative work.

But occasionally, being gentle with yourself can slip over into avoiding what needs to be done.

Only you can know the difference, and part of developing a sustainable creative practice to pay attention to where that line blurs for you, and figure out how to put some guardrails in place, so that you don’t veer too far off course in either direction.

A good stern internal pep talk and an audacious goal usually sets me straight again. If I’m dithering too long, being part of a mastermind with other entrepreneurial ladies ensures a kick in the butt will not be too long in coming. Hauling a deadline forward by a month will do it too.

Whatever it is for you, make sure you pay attention to your own creative patterns.

There’s a difference between being bored and being burnt out, though sometimes they show up looking very similar. There’s a difference between slowing down a bit and slacking, and again, they often have a real döppelganger vibe.

Make sure you’re keeping good records so you know which is which, and if you need a hand setting up your own guardrails, you know where to find me.