I missed day 3 of #write28days. I also missed day 3 of The 100 Day Challenge. I’m not even gonna say whoopsie because I did it on purpose!
I was going to write about this later in the month when I’d gotten to a point where I was properly worn out. When I woke up yesterday I was sluggish and groggy. I hadn’t slept well. I had a lot of work-work to do. I never really woke up, even after vats of coffee, and the entire day was a drag. I ended up spending four hours on the sofa watching Real Housewives of Salt Lake City (whoa, holy wow, that was…something! Please feel free to discuss RHSLC in the comments if you watch it.).
It’s really hard to rest when you have goals and plans and work and kids and family and and and. Even when you do decide to take a break you end up with a stock exchange ticker chattering away in your brain reminding you of all that needs to be done. All of those tasks are flashing red as you try to relax with a book or bask in the soothing glow of women yelling and throwing cocktails across the room.
This is gonna sound silly, but you have to intentionally practice resting.
Before we dive in, I want to highlight the work that The Nap Ministry is doing. Tricia Hersey’s work has heavily informed my approach to work and rest over the past year and I’m so grateful for all she does when she’s not enjoying naps. If you are someone who needs to rest (hint: you need to rest), I gently encourage you to visit The Nap Ministry or call their hotline: 1-833-LUV-NAPS.
I dunno whether it’s our Protestant work ethic, hustle culture, or capitalism, but whatever it is that works in our heads tells us that our value is derived from what we do and what we accomplish. Going back to what I talked to a couple of days ago, we think that more work leads to better results. We’re told that over and over. To see what I’m talking about, all you need to do is take a scroll through #girlboss, listen to Gary Vee for two seconds, or spend five minutes reading through the writing advice on Medium.
Ass in the chair. Write one hour a day, every day. No excuses. If you’re not willing to put in the work, you must not want it badly enough. I think Gary Vee said something along the lines of “you have to be willing to eat shit and have no life for a few years if you really want to be successful, after that you can enjoy life.”
Those are toxic, toxic messages that so many of us buy into because we’re looking for other people to tell us how to be successful. There’s a difference between having the discipline to pursue a project and working yourself down to a nub. There are no guarantees that tomorrow will come, let alone those few years lost to the world because you’re single-mindedly focused on chasing “success.”
We already know how to succeed, and we know what success looks like for ourselves.* We don’t need to look *out there* for that information. All that wisdom lives inside of us – we just need to quiet down long enough to hear it.
*If you don’t know what success looks like for you we’re going to talk about that later this month.
Think about the last time you had a brilliant idea drop into your brain when you were least expecting it. I bet you were in the shower, or driving, or puttering around cleaning or cooking something. You were doing something on autopilot and *poof* brilliant idea arrives, love it when that happens!
How are all those brilliant ideas gonna pop into your head if you never allow your brain to get quiet enough to receive them?
This is why I prioritize rest.
When I’m tired, I take a nap.
It sounds simple, but it’s not.
Some of us are lucky enough to be able to relax or fall asleep anywhere, at any time. I’m not one of them. I have entire conversations with people in my head when I’m trying to relax. I’m thinking about all the stuff that didn’t get done today, all the stuff I have to do tomorrow, and worrying about whether that weird pain in my foot is toenail cancer. Y’all, my brain is ridiculous. It has a lot to say, most of it nonsense.
You don’t have to fall asleep when you’re resting. You just need to either do nothing or do something enjoyable that isn’t goal-directed — reading a book, puttering in the garden, or watching a movie. It can be fun and engaging, but it can’t be something you do to earn income. Work is the opposite of rest. So if your work happens to be creative – writing, making art, crocheting – go find something else to do or not do.
And for goodness sake leave your phone, tablet, or laptop in the other room. None of those things are restful.
You might have to remind your brain, when it starts its incessant chattering, that you are resting and all of that stuff can wait until you’re done. Pretend your brain is a small child and tell it to go take a nap too. There are very few things that can’t wait until you’re rested. Even 100 day projects and blogging challenges. They can wait. They’ll still be there tomorrow waiting for a fresh and perky you to revisit them. There are no rewards for completing them or consequences for missing a day (or many days).
You make your rules.
One of your rules can be: When I’m tired, I rest.
This is Vol. 3 of a series on how to dig out of a creative rut. You can find links to all of the posts in this series here.