This is my blessing and curse: extraordinary enthusiasm about everything. I'm in the middle of two rather ambitious projects right now. I'm working towards publishing my first (non-fiction) book and I've just started writing my second (fiction). All parts of my creative brain are on high alert. Every conscious moment tasks itself with: be inspired. I want to absorb everything around me and release the creative floodgates onto the pages of these pre-birthed books, but during a highly creative period like this, I also want to avoid burning out.
I have been known to do this.
My entire adulthood has been my family and friends either begging me to slow down or marveling in the fact that I have yet another project on the front, front, front burner. As a kid I was like this, too. I remember one morning I woke up early before school and told my mom that I wanted to build a project for the science fair. The science fair was in a few hours, she reminded me. I didn't care. Inspiration had struck and I'd be damned if anything got in my seven year old way.
When you're an intense individual such as my seven year old and thirty year old self, it's easy to blow your load on the first hiccup of inspiration. What is eight million times harder is follow through. This is usually when the enthusiasm has worn out. The idea isn't so fresh anymore. It's just, ya know, what you're doing.
So to drive a little more direction into this current batch of chutzpah, I'm going to give myself some rules.
- Write 1000 new words every day. A thousand words isn't that much, but that is the point. I don't have to finish the masterpiece in one fell swoop. If I start with 1000 words, I'll eventually hit a stride that will get more out of me. But before I get there, I have to practice the hardest part of writing - sitting down to write - and the thing that will get my butt in the chair is knowing all I have to do is hit 1000.
- Stay uncomfortable. In fiction, I'm finding that I have a tendency to create these really tricky situations that stump me on how to move forward. Usually moving forward just means I need to get some crappy words down on the page and stop acting like life depended on the exquisiteness of my first draft. If I can stay in the uncomfortable writing moments, I'm certain the answers will show up.
- F#$% success. I have no interest in it at the moment. This is one I usually battle with (the need to be validated through outward success), but right now there is no time. All my energy is going to go into making choices and writing words that align with what I want to see in the world. I want to get my book babies out into the hands of the people on my terms. Success is boring, freedom is electric.
- Carve a cave. A writing cave. A place where all my tabs are closed, my Bon Iver, James Vincent McMorrow, and alt-J are played, every one of my emails sits unattended, and no one can get to me. It's hard for me to keep saying no to things, so if I carve a cave I say no once. I'll come up for air and conversation when I've hit 1000.
- Non-creativity play time. I have to give myself at least one hour a day to play a game, read a book, call a friend, make some food, watch a movie. In the highly creative periods, the way to sustain is to rest. It's the same in fitness. Rest is nature's antidote to creative burnout. Going to bed, taking a break, and getting out of the work zone are going to be the keys to some good old-fashioned breakthroughs.
And if you're wondering, I polished rocks for my science fair project. Literally polished rocks and glued them to poster board. Don't polish rocks, people. Get your enthusiasm in gear and make something brand new.