Monthly Archives: August 2014

“Busy” is a great way to destroy your creativity

Too Busy and Important to write: the age-old excuse

graffiti art tag Busy

CC image Busy courtesy of Steve Rotman on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Ah, dear neglected Blog, what strangers we have become. Seeing each other only rarely, yet remembering all the old fondness we had for each other, we have become shy in each others’ company and this keeps us from doing what we love. In this case, our words.

I can make many excuses for my neglect. Chief among them, this year, has been Busyness. Ah, the cardinal sin of Busy. Busy covers so much territory. It carries itself with moral rectitude. You can’t really assail Busy, because Busy involves good things, like:

  • Work. We like Work! Since we earn our own bread, we appreciate anything that helps us eat. Also: sleep indoors, and meet other obligations. For months now, we have been saying, “Gee, I am swamped with all this Work!”
  • Play. With all this Work going on, it’s imperative to also make room for Play. All Work and no Play leads Jill down the path of diminishing Work performance and returns. Funny thing, that. Play is necessary for Work. Also, Play is necessary for Writing. Sorry, Writing. We’re setting the stage for you here. Truly, we are.
  • Sleeping. This is a very underrated activity which also has an perverse correlation (up to a certain point) with both Work and Play productivity. The less we sleep, the less we get done. Ironic, no? I mean, this is why some of us pulled all-nighters in college. To get stuff done. Not me, though. My one attempt was a total disaster on all fronts (I fell asleep and didn’t actually finish the paper). I am a failure at all-nighters.

Depending on my train of thought, I imbue Writing (which encompasses Blog) with self-awareness, a personality, and desires. Writing could be a small child, or an insect, or Tyrannosaurus Rex. At this moment, Writing is kind of like the family dog, an older Golden Retriever mix perhaps, sitting by the closed front door with its leash dangling from its mouth. The dog follows me with its eyes, which I avoid meeting as much as possible. Whenever I walk past close enough, I hear a sad little thumping which is the tail against the floor, an irregular rhythm, still hopeful that soon, it will get to go out on that walk. No matter how many times I’ve passed by here before and then carried on with Other Stuff, the hope persists. Thump thump.  Thump.

But Busy wins. So sad.

These longing glances remind me of one of the big reasons I decided to begin working for myself in the first place. Freelance. The word “free” in that compound word is a dangerous crumb of vocabulary. We have a lot of good associations with the word free. Things like free candy (without cost), free will (yes, it’s all about ME!), free time (no one can tell us what to do).  The problem is, nature abhors a vacuum, and there’s always something ready to rush in to fill the void when we clear it out with “free.”

In the case of freelance, I’ve cleared out the boss… which makes room for me to be the new Boss.

I had no illusions that freelance would be a lot of work (I did have a good dose of ignorance, though). I’m good at organizing my time, too, so I didn’t think setting my own schedule would be a problem (this is true). If I have a project that needs doing, I get it done. What I realize I am struggling with is work exhaustion. I’ll keep doing and doing and doing, because I like being able to pay my bills. As a result, I get more and more tired, and Sleep takes over a lot more time in my schedule which I thought would be devoted to Writing.

My illusion about freelance work is that I’d have the time flexibility to work on more creative projects while handling my own business projects. Turns out, I just replaced one tyrant with another, namely myself. Now I work all the time and am too tired to write, and I have no outside party or situation to blame for my failure to make progress on my creative dreams.

I have only myself.

Now that’s an eye-opener.

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How does Busy show up in your life?