This isn’t the topic I had planned for today, but it was timely for me. Some of you who follow me on Twitter may know that I spent the week in the Toronto offices. To be very specific, I spent the week in the Toronto offices attending meetings. If we look back at my Monday-Thursday, the amount of time I spent not in meetings MIGHT equal 4 hours. Even my lunch hours were scheduled. And since you know I wasn’t in those meetings alone, you can imagine that many others in the Carina Press team were in a similar situation. In fact, I’m lucky to be at home today while many of them still have another day of meetings to look forward to.
So when I was thinking about this post this morning, and what I had planned to share with you (which was actually insights into my trip to the offices and what it’s like to work for Harlequin), my brain got tired. I’m mentally exhausted after a week of high-energy, high-focus meetings and brainstorming. My well runs dry, so to speak.
But this isn’t something unique to this week. I often have to make choices. Do I focus on the Carina Press blog or my personal blog? Do I tweet from my personal Twitter or Carina Twitter? What is my social media strategy going to be for Carina. What can we be doing better and differently and what can I improve? And where will I find the mental energy and resources to make those moves.
And this isn’t something unique to me. Everyone on the Carina Press/Harlequin team faces similar each day. And I know all of you do as well. Maybe you’re an author trying to tap your creative energy for the next book. Or you’re someone getting ready to start NaNoWriMo and wonder just how you’re going to do it. Or perhaps you’re a reader and you find yourself busy with work, home, life and suddenly hitting a reading slump where just nothing catches your interest because you can’t seem to focus.
What do we do when this happens, when we need to recharge. How do we nurture our creative energy?
I’m going to share what I do, and I’m hoping some of you will give me new ideas. Of course, what works for me might not work for you, and vice versa, but I’m still game to hear what you do, because I might want to try it!
1) First, I give myself permission to say no. No, I’m sorry I can’t do that (at least not today), no, I’m sorry I can’t help you. No, I’m sorry I can’t go on a field trip. Or cook dinner tonight. I think we often tell ourselves we can’t say no, because we don’t want people to think we don’t have it under control. Or we feel guilty and believe we’re ruining our children’s/family’s/parent’s/friend’s lives because we’ve said no. But the truth is, giving myself permission to say no is better for both them and me in the long run, because it makes me able to engage more enthusiastically and with more energy in the things I say yes to.
2) I do something different. I’m going to use reading as an example for this one. Sometimes I hit a reading slump and just nothing is catching my attention so instead of trying to force myself to read, I try a different medium. Usually for me, it’s TV shows. I don’t watch a lot of TV on a regular basis (because I’d rather read) but I do have a few favorite shows and I save them for times when my brain needs to engage in an alternate activity. I find that after a few days’ break, I’m ready to dive into a new book.
3) I take a break. And not just, from that task, but from the computer. I go cook, I go shopping (I do love me some retail therapy), I go for a walk or hang out with my family or have a date with my husband. Being at the computer can send my brain into a certain mindset, and it’s not truly a break unless I get away from it.
4) I search out something to inspire me. Maybe a conversation with friends, listening to music, reading articles. I look for sources of inspiration, things that will job that creative spark and re-energize the creative spirit.
Something I don’t do as much of as I should, but I know works for me:
Physical exercise. I get caught in a vicious cycle. I feel better after I exercise, I get a charge from it, and I do some great thinking while I’m exercising. But I have a problem giving myself permission to take the time to do this on a regular basis. Think of all the other things I could be getting done! I need to do better here.
So those are just a few broad and quick things that I do to nurture my creative self. What about you? Do you have something general or something very, very specific you can share?