Have you ever had those days where you’ve worked 12 hours and feel like you’ve accomplished nothing? In contrast, what about the 6 hour days where you are nothing short of a miracle worker?
All mysteries of the time-space-productivity continuum aside, I know that my fellow entrepreneurs and self-employed folks get this. I also know that authors and other creative types REALLY get this!
It’s not that we work harder than the rest of you. It’s that we obsess about our working habits a lot more. Okay, it’s that we obsess about everything a lot more!
Writing, specifically writing books, usually falls under the category of a “passion project.” Therefore, the 12th man on the field is inevitably this nagging thing called guilt. When we’re writing the book we feel guilty about not doing the rest of the stuff (including laundry, dishes, and caring for any other living creatures that have the misfortune of depending on us to not die). And vice versa.
Even a sneaking suspicion that we’re being lazy in chasing our literary dreams and goals, is an almost unbearable thought. Because, we’re constantly told, “Writing is a gift.” “The world needs your words.” “Are you going to sit on your dream forever?”
(Yes I’ll admit I’m one of the people telling you these things!)
That’s all well and good but when the words aren’t coming and the brain cells aren’t firing, those fluffy and fantastic philosophies tend to go out the window (or they get told where to shove it). If you’re not in the zone, the noblest of motivators hold no weight. When your brain isn’t in it, neither is your heart.
Sometimes, believe it or not, the creative soul just needs a good nap to recharge itself. This isn’t procrastination. It’s contemplation; the rare, precious time which as writers, we must give ourselves to nurture and breathe life into our ideas.
Are you feeling lazy about your current creative project? Does it seem like you’re spinning your wheels a hundred miles an hour and getting nowhere? Rather than feeling guilty about this current state you’re in, why not see it as an opportunity instead?
3 Quick Tips for Capitalizing on Times of Creative Contemplation.
Tip #1: Unplug. Believe me, I know it’s tempting, when your brain isn’t working, to meander on over to the social media and distract yourself from the guilt of not hitting your word count targets. But the thing is, this only makes it worse. Your creative brain isn’t designed to be assaulted with ideas and create them at the same time. If you’re reacting to what’s happening on the Internet, I guarantee that your brain isn’t focusing on coming up with genius new ideas. Contemplation in itself implies rest. Exposing your precious brain to the Internet, is not restful.
Tip #2: Unchain yourself from that desk. Go some place else. In fact, because I’m a planning geek, I like to have a list of options for “some place else.” For me, thinking places and writing/production places are two entirely different things. Bring your journal, toss any outlines or writing plans aside, and let the ideas flow, unstructured. This is your chance to add whole new layers of depth, development, and color to your ideas through the timeless art of brainstorming.
Tip #3: Underwear. Yes, I’m serious. Tackle that laundry (or dishes, gardening, busy work, etc.)! Sometimes, it’s the most monotonous activities that quiet and reboot the stressed out, guilt-ridden, procrastinating brain. Or, put another way, sometimes you need some serious underwear folding time to hear your own thoughts.
If you’re going to beat yourself up about something, don’t let it be your periods of creative contemplation. Because as writers we can all list about a dozen other things to beat ourselves up about right?
Until next time…
PS: Did you get your copy of my free guide: How to Find Your Big World Changing Idea (and then DO something about it!)?