Like stories and narrative voices, writers embody different extremes. For some, the focus is the current project and the motivator is the next deadline (or, depending on your boss, the chiding voice that accompanies error). Thankfully, I never make mistakes. Kidding…no one is perfect (coming from someone who has been referred to as “impractically imperfect,” not a misquote). Anyway, there are also many writers who do not write to make a living and write purely from the soul, and then there are writers who do not write to make a living and can’t write from the soul…writers that have no soul…you get it.
Writing and editing for a living can cause you to slide into some really intellectually lazy behavior. Personally, I find myself making excuses to avoid my own creative work in favor of the goals that my employers deem immediate and relevant…and they are so convincing!
During work hours, yes! Go above and beyond! Work late and work hard, but don’t let the stress of completing an assignment for someone else translate to the neglect of your personal goals. Balance is everything. Yesterday, this is how it went down:
“I finished that article today. That was creative. That counts.”
COMMENCE NAP ———>
In a later moment of clarity, I promptly “punished” myself for self-neglect with three pages of creative work. Also interesting. Shouldn’t I be rewarding myself with creative work instead of punishing myself with it? Yes, I was creative in my work for others, but whose goals were actually fulfilled?
The creative beast is a sneaky, fat, lazy animal of the subconscious when coupled with stress and sleep depravation.
I guess what I’m getting at is that while writers earn the right to make a living at what they do, it’s important to identify those moments when you might be making excuses for yourself and deviating from the challenges and goals you’ve set for yourself in your own writing and creativity. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t (or can’t) be creative in work for others, but don’t forget yourself in what you do.
Also, do yoga. I have to say that starting up again is making my body scream, but it’s worth it for the calm, the clarity, and literal/metaphorical balance.