Have Some FunNov 06, 2023
This article is dedicated to all the creators out there working their butts off. All y’all (that’s Southern plural) creating content, watching trends, crunching numbers, tweaking marketing and all that entrepreneurial stuff. This is your reminder to have some fun.
You have learned that people need what you have to say. You have spent the time, energy (and money!) to learn the thousand skills - OTHER than actually creating your content - that bring success. You have made the huge decision to spend your precious time to inform, entertain and enlighten your audience.
You may have even made the transition into creation as a full time endeavor. It requires a huge leap of faith - in yourself - to quit your “day job.”
Creation is serious business, demands a serious amount of dedication and sacrifice and takes a serious toll on your relationships and your mental and physical health. Only the driven will make it.
But I’m here to tell you that focused and driven doesn’t have to equal drudgery and indentured servitude.
Burn Bright, Don’t Burnout
Everybody has heard, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” What a beautiful sentiment. Too bad it’s male bovine excrement.
The life of a creator is frequently portrayed as morning tea overlooking the English garden while the muse mystically descends. Our creator smiles wistfully as her manicured fingers glide effortlessly over her laptop keyboard and magically, her wisdom is then consumed by millions.
I’m pretty sure this isn’t even representative of the few creators who make 7-figures and have teams to handle most of the logistics. It certainly isn’t true of creators just starting to make a name for themselves.
It is true that a creator who stays the course for any length of time does love the work. This is one of those fields that doesn’t retain get-rich-quick types. But love the work we may, it is still work. And stress.
Creators never really take time off. Deadlines loom, launch schedules approach and you must be ever ready to capture the fickle spark of inspiration that may inform the next breakthrough masterpiece.
I am typically joyfully obsessed when I write for a new album or book. I can maintain sharp focus and long work hours. But I have learned to recognize when I push too hard. A sudden lack of interest or bout of fatigue can signal the onset of burnout.
There is a rhythm to creation. Ideas flow and your creative nous is attuned when you’re “in the zone.” What to do, then, when overwork raises it’s ugly head?
First of all, don’t stop.
Many people will feel burned out and just “take a break.” But the break can extend for months or longer. In the most unfortunate of cases, the break becomes permanent and once-promising creators give up and do something else.
There is a way to stop the burnout but not the momentum.
My father-in-law, an artist, gave some sage advice to my wife (also an artist) who then passed it on to me:
Always have three projects in play. One project is your normal work and is at your current level of competency. One is beyond your current skill level, the completion of which will increase your expertise. The third project is fun and easy.
Do the hard thing for short bursts to get better at your craft. When your normal work starts to feel like drudgery, spend some time on the fun and easy.
When you do this, you take a break from the work that threatens to become tiresome, but you stay in the creative flow. This paradigm allows you to release the pressure for a bit, and still maintain your artistic rhythm and momentum.
Have Some Fun
It is a misconception that only difficult and complicated work will bear creative fruit. Simple, enjoyable activities keep you in the “groove” and can be productive in their own right. In many cases, the “fun and easy” project becomes your next bestseller.
Time spent on a fun side project - even if only tangentially related - is not slacking. In fact, it is common for seemingly different pursuits to inform each other to the betterment of both.
Don’t wait to redirect your energy until you lose enthusiasm for your primary work. After all, if you wanted another “job” you could just go get one.
Take some time to keep the feeling of play in your creative life - the world needs your gift.
I am a creator (musician, writer, live-streamer and podcaster), entrepreneur, counselor and professor.
To learn more about how to use these concepts or to inquire about working with me, you can contact me through my website, the comments section on my Substack or Medium accounts or The Authentic Life Blog page. If you have found value in this article, consider following my Instagram and Twitter (now called X) accounts. To support this community, you can Buy Me A Coffee or donate through my Patreon account.
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