It’s ironic that just last Sunday I wrote about slowing down.
No sooner did I click “publish” than I dove straight into what Goddess Leonie refers to as the “Ride Ze Wild Donkey Technique” for getting stuff done.
In other words, I’m heavy into manic creation mode for my newest goodie, the
I dreamed up the idea for the Creative Ignition Kit back in May, but kept it simmering on the back burner while other projects took priority.
Part of me wondered if I’d ever get it done. There’s a school of thought that if you don’t act on an idea right away, you might as well give up on it altogether, and almost 5 months went by and I still hadn’t brought it to life.
But I knew this was something special. I knew I was still excited about it – it just needed to germinate for awhile before it could sprout.
I also knew I wanted to bring it to life in the fall, maybe in conjunction with my November birthday. And then when I remembered that November was National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short), I had my deadline!
It’s perfect timing: A month-long creative challenge, toolbox and support community all in one, brought to life just in time to surf the wave of NaNoWriMo. But for creatives of all kinds who want to take on a somewhat less-intimidating challenge than writing a 50,000-word novel in 30 days!
Riding the donkey
So now I’m riding the wild donkey, madly creating content, building the website, wrangling the code (who knew I’d end up becoming such a techie geek?).
My M.O. is to power through intense bursts of creativity, then collapse in a heap. After a recuperation period, I’ll usually coast for a bit until the next donkey comes along and I hop on again.
In some ways, it’s a highly productive working style. People frequently remark on how much I seem to get done.
Unfortunately, it can come with a very high price: exhaustion, burnout, even illness.
A kinder, gentler donkey
It doesn’t have to be that way. Since adapting my “Live An Abundant Life NOW” approach, I’m managing to build a little more sanity and humaneness into my (still admittedly somewhat manic) creation process.
- Yesterday, I took 2 hours to walk to a nearby school and throw the football with my sweetie. (Something that actually deserves its own post; I NEVER thought I’d be doing something so … athletic … and loving it!)
- When we got home, I took another couple of hours to try out some recipes in The Pink Ribbon Diet (highly recommended) and enjoy a delicious dinner.
- All week, in fact, I’ve taken time to cook and bake, to excercise, to spend time with my sweetie.
- Thursday I shut down (shut down) my computer at 6pm and spent the rest of the evening on “Date Night” with my sweetie.
- I’ve gotten to a yoga class three times this week, and walked or biked (almost) every other day. (Still have to get on the exercise bike tonight…)
- This morning I capped my 15 Minutes a Day art-making practice with a long, un-timed stretch in which I finished 6 new pieces for my ArtSpark newsletter.
True, I was up wrangling with web code for the Creative Ignition Kit site til after 3am this morning (regular and adequate sleep is one area where I still could use a lot of improvement!), but in general my quality of life is much better than it has been during similar creative bursts.
Creative addiction and circuit breakers
In his new (and highly-recommended) book, Uncertainty, Jonathan Fields spends much of a chapter addressing the syndrome of “creative addiction”: is it necessary to drive oneself into the ground in order to create greatness?
He writes on page 164:
The lure of creative-obsessive behavior pulls you toward a single vehicle of creative output but ends up pushing you away from everything and everyone else in your life. connections you once had to people and activities, even those you claim are the most important things in your universe, wither and eventually die of neglect. Stepping out of your something-from-nothing bubble turns into pain, so you stay in, where you know your trusted muse will always arrive at some point to offer up the next hit. It becomes a “chicken and egg” thing fairly quickly.
Have you been there? I have. I started making art soon after I married. The relationship was already on shaky ground, and I dove into my art partly in order to escape. Which served to distance me from my (now ex-) husband even further, perpetuating the cycle.
Whether you’re in a love relationship or not, the fact is that this kind of creative-obsessive behavior does not make for an abundant life.
“Never go into that creative-obsessive cave without a rope, a timer, and someone at home who’s been told to alert the authorities if you’re not back at the agreed-upon time,” writes Jonathan Fields.
Here are his specific suggestions for “psychic circuit breakers” (from page 170 of Uncertainty):
- Define the triggers that signal you’ve been “under” for too long.
- Create feedback mechanisms that will tell you if and when you’ve been there too long.
- Define a vehicle that allows you to pull yourself out or alerts others to come looking.
- Get mutual agreement on these expectations, triggers, and mechanisms from those within the endeavor and those who surround it.
(Mental note to self: Clearly, staying up to work while my sweetie head off to bed at 11pm is a recipe for getting stuck in the aforementioned cave… As if I didn’t already know that…)
My overall goal – for me, for you, for everyone – is Creative Abundance. Which requires balance.
If your life is out of whack because you’re not doing your creative thing enough, the Creative Ignition Kit is designed to help you bring the scales into balance. (Sign up here if you want first dibs and early-bird pricing.)
If your life is out of whack because you’re stuck in the creative-obsessive cave, try out the circuit breakers above.
And tell me, which do you struggle with more – not enough time in the Creative Zone, or too much time in the obsessive-creative cave?
PS – Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!