When your creativity flows more like a slow trickle instead of a gushing waterfall, it’s time to rest.
I could be poetic and say something like… Creativity is an ever-flowing waterfall. Whether it’s trickling or gushing, it’s always running. Until it stops…
But I’m too tired for that right now.
I’ve been working A LOT these last few months. I’m lucky if I spend a couple hours with my husband, read a chapter in a book for fun, and sleep seven hours most nights. On top of that, I prioritize this blog, working out, and meal prepping, and I do my best to work on my current writing project at least once per week. But… I’ve been slacking on editing my big project. (See this blog post for more about prioritizing in life.)
It’s the sad truth. I’m tired of juggling so many things and missing out on other things because of it. I’m worn out. I’m frustrated. I want to nap 98% of the time.
Do you ever feel like this?
If you don’t, high five! Share your secret in the comments.
If you do, take a deep breath and keep reading.
This is only a season. Circumstances in life will change. This will not last forever.
You’ve probably heard it before: When you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit. ﹘Banksy
That’s what fitness trainers say. If your body needs a break or if you’re just plain super sore, take a rest day. Don’t give up on your training or try to get a refund on that race you already registered for. Just take a day off and give your muscles time to rebuild. This is why most fitness programs focus on different muscle groups every day – to give the muscle you worked on yesterday a break while building different muscles today. Give your inner critic a break, too, and realize that rest is necessary to avoid injury. Then jump back into your training tomorrow or the next day.
I can get tired with stories, too. Just opening that notebook or Word document can make me sigh. Flipping through pages I need to edit feels daunting and painful. (I wrote that? *continues reading* I wrote that! *practices fainting dramatically*) It can make me question why I ever thought I could write and edit. I consider giving it all up at times because it’s so hard.
But you’ve also heard: It’s supposed to be hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it. ﹘Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own
Writing is hard. Editing, especially your own work, is hard. That’s why so many people set out to write a book and never finish. This creative life is difficult and tiring, but it’s worth it. Not only when you’re published, but also when you realize how much you’ve improved over the years. Those moments of recognizing personal growth are exhilarating and peaceful. They make it worth the pain and difficulty we sometimes experience.
It’s okay to be tired, but let’s not glorify it.
Tiredness leads to injury, physical and mental. It’s important to take care of yourself – physically, mentally, spiritually, and creatively. So don’t give up; rest. Don’t empty your creative well until it dries up and you have nothing left to write. Walk away for awhile. Fill your creative well with other activities and projects in the meantime, but keep this tricky one on your list. (That’s called “active rest” in the fitness world.) You never know when you’ll have the ideas/skills/aptitude/desire to attack it again. And then, you’ll be so glad you kept it.
Challenge A: If you’re tired of your project, set it aside for an hour, a day, a week, a month. Keep it on your to-do list but start another project, even if it’s a short one such as a short story or poem. Then do something you enjoy, like going for a walk, swimming at the local (indoor) pool, or playing a card game; Easter weekend is perfect for this! Let me know how the break feels in the comments.
Challenge B: If you walked away from a project because it was difficult, pick it back up again. You might be ready to tackle it now. Give it at least an hour, a day, a week, a month. Give it a chance. It was your idea to begin with. Maybe you’ll remember what sparked the idea and be able to reignite that fire. Let me know how restarting that project feels in the comments.