It’s been a bit a little while since I’ve posted and for that, I apologize. The good news is I have a few things to report about what I’m up to and working on.
But first, a quick story…
When I was about 8 years old, a friend’s father asked me if I would be playing Little League again in the upcoming season after having played the year before. My response?
“No, I need a break.” He laughed, shrugged his shoulders and retorted, “You don’t need a break!”
I felt embarrassed (still am), because, of course, he was right. Again, I was 8. What kind of 8-year-old feels they need a break from anything, let alone a recreational youth sport like Little League baseball?
But it wasn’t the last time I’d use the “I need a break” excuse to get out of something I just didn’t feel like doing. Several years later, I sprained an ankle (the first of many such sports injuries I’ve endured) and told my bass guitar instructor that I couldn’t practice as a result before that week’s lesson. He gave me a cold side-eye and questioned why a sprained ankle (which I would never use, hopefully, to play the bass) would prohibit me from using my hands to continuing learning the four-stringed instrument.
Of course, I had no answer.
These are just a few of many occurrences throughout my life in which I felt so “exhausted” from something that I felt the need to “take a break.” But I wasn’t exhausted, and a break was the last thing I needed. I was afraid and looking for and excuse. What I needed was to see these things through further and determine if they were the right moves ultimately. Some have been the right moves, others have not, and still others have been me simply running from difficulty out of fear.
Going back to what I was saying at the start of this post, I inadvertently took a recent breather from writing due to some traveling related to my day job (I was, oddly, able to post that week, multiple times), and then some family vacation that left me with less time than usual to write. The reality is I just did not do a good job at managing my time to begin with – writing is possible in the midst of the busiest days, it’s simply a matter of time management, as I’m learning more and more.
The Mental Fog Rut
My point is this: anytime I’ve taken a break like that is ultimately based in excuses and fear, I ultimately end up falling into a weird mental limbo where my productivity hits negative levels. This “taking a break” idea is the first form of seductive reasoning resistance always seems to throw at me.
The more I write and pursue what’s really driving me (which is coming more and more into focus as a form of creative exploration, fiction and nonfiction writing, and, on the physical side, running), the more I want to do these things, and the easier it becomes to keep doing them. I’m not saying they’re not difficult, I’m just saying the more I take action toward making them happen, and the more consistently I do them, the more resistance seems to dissolve to the background, so there’s less of a self-imposed barrier. Then, in this space, I find a groove, a rhythm that is only really disrupted when I “take a break.” This is the breeding ground for consistency for me.
The less I pursue these things, on the other hand, and the more I take these “breaks,” the more difficult it becomes to get back into that rhythm. The mindfog also thickens and ideas seem harder to reach (writer Jennifer Blanchard recently wrote about the disruptive nature of “time off” on her blog – it’s worth a read). And for running, shorter runs seem like never-ending distance events after taking a break.
NOTE: When I say “taking a break” here, I am not talking about the same thing as pausing and breathing when legitimately tired. Those types of breaks are essential and natural in any process, especially the creative process. I’m an introvert by nature, so certain activities and long-standing creative efforts tend to actually leave me exhausted, but it’s a good exhaustion, the kind that actually leaves me requiring natural rest to continue.
The types of “breaks” that I’m describing aren’t natural breaths or even a form of rest, they are self-created potholes in the road that leave me with one hell of an inspirational flat tire and make me feel like doing nothing more than sitting on the side of the road waiting for help (hint: there is no metaphorical AAA that will help in this space). I don’t look at “taking a break” and “rest” as synonymous.
What I’m talking about is the fear-based delusion that “taking a break” is the right move when it’s actually the last thing I should be doing. What I should be doing is kicking it into high gear up that mental hill, pushing onward until I reach the top. From that point on, there’s less resistance to continue forward.
So as a result of this I’m now hitting it into high gear. For the past few months I’ve aimed to write a post here about twice a week, in addition to a weekly newsletter. I’m changing this up for the time being (and possibly for good), with the intent to post more frequently, about three times per week, albeit with shorter more notes-driven blog posts (with lengthier posts as needed). I’m still working on ideas for reworking my newsletter, which will ultimately be bi-weekly or monthly for subscribers, so stay tuned for more on this.
On top of the increased posting frequency I’m also working on my manifesto eBook and keeping a log on my training for an upcoming half marathon (it’s my third such race, and more on this later, but one thing I’m looking to explore quite a bit is the parallel between writing and running and how they can support one another, as well as how both are forms of creative expression).
In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you and if there’s anything in particular you’re curious about as it relates to writing, creativity, and the fears/anxieties/self-doubts that arise when trying to follow one’s creative path.
Feel free to leave a comment below or send me a note directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know if there’s something you’d like me to focus on with my blog or other works, or are just curious about anything regarding the writing/creative process.
Until then, I’m digging in. Lots of stories and posts to write, lots of books to read, lots of miles to run, etc.
Time to move.