Lately I’ve been working my butt off (Literally. I’ve lost five pounds). Between my part time job and about 5 writing projects I’ve given myself, I find that my time is mostly spent running from one thing to another and still feeling like I’ve gotten nothing done at the end of the night. I go to bed with a to-do list cycling through my brain, which then means I don’t sleep as well, and when I am relaxing, I’m guilting myself for not “being productive”.
I’ve been through this cycle before. And what general happens is I decide to give myself a little break, like a day or a week. But then that day turns into many days and that week turns into many weeks and before I know it I’ve let go of every project or idea I had wanted to work on. In Julia Cameron’s book, Walking In This World, she talks about how artists have difficulty with momentum not because they don’t have any ideas, but because they have too many. “When we think about a project, we think, I could try this and this and this and maybe could try this and this and this and, oh, I could try that and then and what if and oh, dear!” This is exactly what happens to me in these moments of a million and one things to do. I find myself not wanting to do any of it and turning my back on most of it.
So taking a night off kind of scares me, especially when I’ve had a good momentum going. Call it social conditioning to work, work, work, call it too much ambition, call it validation through results. But whatever it’s name, when I decide to take a break, I’m left feeling like I’m a lazy bum who will never, ever get anything accomplished. And, having had unproductive periods after taking a break, I’m very fearful that I can’t stop the pattern.
But I was mentally exhausted last night. And it was freaking cold outside. So rather than attend my weekly writing group, I decided to stay in with my husband. He was also planning on working last night, but when I decided to take the night off, he realized he needed it too. We got some ridiculously bad for us/haven’t eaten since childhood treats…
…and put in the DVD we got from Netflix…
…and proceeded to fall asleep in a sugar haze in front of the TV.
This morning I woke up and got to work pretty quickly, working for 4 hours straight. It was totally worth the risk to take the night off, truly take it off, without any expectations on myself. And I guess my past behaviors aren’t necessarily set in stone.