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Fall #1: Getting Back in the Saddle
How I recapture momentum after a hiatus
You probably haven’t noticed, but I’ve been on an unplanned break from writing for the last few weeks.
Here’s what happened: earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend a learning program for entrepreneurs at a fancy business school in Boston. It’d been a while since I’d been in college, and I guess I’d forgotten that they kind of expect you to do homework and actually come prepared to classes.
So in the weeks leading up to my trip, I spent every night after work reading case studies and examining spreadsheets. Then there was the week spent in Boston, with 13 hour days of class and discussion. Then I came home, and life continued to feel very busy. I just couldn’t find the time to write, or do much of anything else extracurricular.
It’s so easy to lose momentum, especially when it comes to creative hobbies and side projects. No matter how fulfilling it is, there is always a natural barrier to doing anything creative.
There’s a certain amount of discomfort inherent in any sort of creative act. I don’t mean that it’s unpleasant, necessarily, just that it requires stretching yourself. You need energy for that.
So when energy is low, it’s natural to put it aside and focus on things that are more passive or relaxing. I might take a bath or read a novel, or I might just watch cat videos until I fall asleep. It feels right in the short term to give myself a break, but in the long term I also need those creative outlets to feel like I’m growing.
For me, what gets me over the energy hurdle is simply having a routine. The less I have to think about when jumping into a creative project, the better. I just follow what I always do, and try not to worry about the result, at least at that moment.
It’s when that routine gets interrupted that things start to go off the rails. It can be incredibly difficult to get back into the swing of things once I’ve neglected my creativity for a while, and it feels easier and easier to give up with each day that goes by.
How I reclaim momentum
Here’s what I’ve found helps me return to my creative practices any time I lose momentum:
Make it easy. Do the smallest thing possible. Cut out anything that feels hard for now, until you get going again. If you feel resistance to certain parts of a project, ignore them for now. For example, I haven’t had time to read online at all, so I was concerned I wouldn’t have any links to share with you all. So I’m just leaving them out today.
Make it pleasant. Often, when I’ve put a project off, it begins to loom over me and feel more and more like work. I try to combat this by making the actual experience as soothing and enjoyable as I can. It’s important for me to build positive associations with creative work, especially when I’ve been away from it awhile. It should feel like a ritual, not a chore.
Let it be imperfect. A big part of my resistance to picking up a hobby after a hiatus is the sense that I “failed” by taking a break in the first place. This is insidious perfectionism. It’s the voice that says that if I didn’t do something exactly the way I’d planned, it means I obviously suck and there is no point in trying. So to get back into it again, I have to allow that I am not in total control, that it’s ok to stop and start, and that things that are worth doing are never perfect.
Find a reason to restart. Hey, it’s the beginning of fall! It seemed like a great time to restart. If I dig, I can almost always find a reason why this is the perfect time to get moving again.
No links this week as I return to my routine, but here’s a picture of Lucy helping me with the apple harvest. I am drowning in apples this year.
Have a great week!