Self awareness and care for creativity and energy

During his interview for Ordinary Chaos, Keith talked at one point about what he does if he’s feeling creatively stuck. (Sept 14 episode)

He looks at the rest of his life. Has he been eating well? Sleeping? Not drinking too much alcohol? A feeling of stuck-ness in creativity is an indicator for him that something somewhere outside of the creative realm is stuck.

My experience is similar.

The days when it’s hard to write are most often days when there’s something else running in the background: I had a disagreement that feels unresolved. I’ve been eating junk food on a daily basis for a few days in a row. I’ve been going to bed later than I need to. 

When personal life is flowing better, I have more ideas for writing and photos. I have more desire to draw and paint. I play with Photoshop. There is more life in me.

Recently, I had a week-long streak when I was having a hard time writing anything decent. I kept writing, but very little of it was viable for the blog or the newsletter. One of those days, I had only about an hour of quiet time and wanted to use it to write. There were other things on my mind, and I did my best to set them aside and focus.

I got something written. It wasn’t very good.

Since journaling often helps my brain relax, my takeaway was to use at least some of the time to journal, because I’m not going to get good writing done anyway.

But then I realized that I hadn’t been running in several days. Maybe instead of journaling, I needed to run.

Either way, what I didn’t need was to sit down and power through. But that’s what I did, leaving me frustrated that I had used my hour as intended and it wasn’t fruitful.

Whether you’re doing creative work or not—and many of us are using creativity even if we aren’t doing “creative work”—you won’t do your best work if you’re powering through. You don’t have to run 10 miles and eat a squeaky-clean diet to feel better. But you do need to move, and you do need to eat or drink less junk. 

Of course, the catch is that when you’re feeling stuck, you have the least energy to make those changes. Putting one foot in front of the other is hard. Do it anyway. Something. What one or two things can you do to help yourself feel better, get a little unstuck, and get closer to doing your best work? 

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