I sent a message out this Tuesday that read:
"Good morning all,
Today I’m doing something a little different. It’s getting to the part of the year where my work-life balance is shifting to where a bigger portion is the work chunk. While this is part of the normal flow of things for me, it’s also the first year I’ve had to seriously consider how it affects WHR.
In an attempt to keep myself from total burnout (which I’m very prone to) while trying to collect and restructure my time to find ways to keep this all flowing as normal, I’ve made a decision.
Today, instead of me writing something for you, I want to hear about your thoughts. Do you have any tips or tricks for artists or writers? Any epiphanies or breakthroughs you’d like to share? Ideas, inspiration, or ice cream recommendations for an artist in a rut?
I’m going to be collecting these thoughts from the WHR community today (including you I hope!). And then tonight or tomorrow morning I’ll put them all together in one spot and share them with you. The hope is that you’ll have lots of little tidbits from artists of all kinds to make up for my lack of one big thought.
If you have a thought, just reply to this email. If for some reason that doesn’t work, just send it straight to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get it. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
And with that in mind, I received two lovely responses that I wanted to share with you guys.
1. From Melissa @shrimpcamp
"Quiet time, alone time, days off from writing and art are super important."
This is something I personally struggle with sometimes. I tend to find "projects" that I go absolutely all in for a month or so at a time. Then I get burned out for two weeks, and find another project to absorb myself into. So when I want to do anything consistently (Tuesday Thoughts, cough cough), I start off all in and then have no idea how to keep up the momentum while trying to lay off myself.
These reminders that it's a normal phenomenon and that it's perfectly understandable and even necessary to say "hey, I need a couple weeks" are incredibly helpful. Setting priorities is 100% a learned skill we have to practice. A lot of times as artists and writers, we are the work. Our thoughts, our hands, our minds. When we suffer, so does our output. It's good to prioritize ourselves over the content sometimes. That way we can thrive, and so can the art when we're ready for it.
2. From Cannon Taylor
"For me, creativity comes from spontaneousness. If I feel a poem or an idea coming, I have to write it down immediately. I've never been good at leaving parts of a poem blank and figuring the rest out later. But if I get the opportunity, I put all my efforts into writing as much as I can, and seeing where it goes.
I'd say another helpful tip is to not be afraid to edit. If a thought is coming to you, but you can't put it into words, put down an idea, and come back to it. Maybe it'll come to you after writing more.
As for ice cream recommendations, the brand Turkey Hill has an outstanding flavor called "Mint Chocolate Cookie". It's like cookies and cream, but crunchier and mintier. Instant classic for me.
To sum it up, allow me to put it into a haiku:
Mint cookie, flavor of life.
Edit your poems."
First off, I will be trying that ice cream. Thank you, Cannon. Second, writing down your ideas for later is absolutely a great idea. This is that idea about "saving your scraps" that I wanted to discuss last week (and will eventually write out).
Being creative on a schedule doesn't work for everyone, or even most people. Having somewhere to store those boughts of creativity is extremely helpful, especially if you can't seem to pull anything out when you need it. I actually learned from Try Hill (@squarerootof9) that having a special spot for these ideas this is called a "common place book". Not only does it help with your consistency, but looking back to edit these old ideas, as Cannon mentions, keeps you from a certain tunnel vision in the moment. Great work happens in the moment. Polished, whole work happens when you take that moment and give it time and care, and a bowl of ice cream.
Thank you both for chipping into this! I appreciate seeing the interaction and the sharing and caring that comes from other writers and artists. If you're struggling, take some time off. Eat something you love. Make art when you feel like it. And reach out to your community.
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Liberty Jensen • Writer
Liberty is a donations manager, finance student, and full-time drinker of coffee. She enjoys poetry, her cats, and spending time with her husband.