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Do you feel guilty when you’re not creating? I know I do. I have a hard time not making things.
I had a weekend recently and it was the first true weekend I had in months. I didn’t have anything planned. It was incredible. I caught up on my reading list, I watched some videos, conference talks, a documentary even(!), and learned a ton. It was very relaxing.
But it also felt very weird. I usually don’t go that long with making something. I still felt that itch—that drive to create.
I see the chronic creator situation as a plus. Sure, it can be considered a curse, but look at the alternative: chronic consumer. Most people consume. Few people produce (which is why you’re not a small fish in a big pond).
As people who field the desire to create incessantly, our challenge is preventing burn out. For others, the challenge is creating anything at all. The latter is much more difficult. Flipping the switch from consumer to producer is challenging and scary.
If you’re someone who is constantly making things, constantly producing, remember that you’re doing well. You’re already an anomaly. I’m not saying that just to give you a pat on the back (though you probably deserve one), but to say that you owe it to yourself to sustain that momentum.
If you’ve done good work this week, it’s ok not to be making something every second of today. It’s ok to sit in your bean bag or grab coffee, or take a week off or take a trip. You’ve been going and going and making and producing and that’s awesome—but you don’t want to get the point where you’re running on empty.
If you’ve ever tried to start a lawn mower on next-to-no gas or next-to-no oil, you know what I’m talking about. It might turn on and it might run, but it runs rough. You can push it and make it work, but it’s not ideal. You should have some reserves in the tank; some charge in the battery.
The time away from your work is the charge. Stepping away from the desk, getting outside the office, traveling to a new town—those are the places where you will find inspiration to fuel your creativity.
As you read this, I’m on my sabbatical, resting. I pre-recorded this episode ahead of time. It’s important to take breaks.
If you feel guilty not creating or doing, realize the upside: at least you care. At least you have that desire. At least you don’t have the alternative problem. If you haven’t been creating, then you should probably listen to that voice and flip the switch from consumer to producer.
But if you look back on the past week or month and see that you have been prolific in showing up and making things, give yourself a break and cut yourself some slack. It’s ok and you deserve it.