What I learned on my break
13 November 2017, Category: creativity
13 November 2017, Category: creativity
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? How are you? Are you still doing that thing with them and everything else? Oh really? Good to hear.
I put this blog on a hiatus in the middle of July, which seems like a lifetime ago. A lot has happened in the world and in my life in the meantime. I said I would be back ‘soonish’ but didn’t expect it to be almost four months. A third of a year vanished, just like that. Although, if you look at it from another perspective, four months is a tiny blink in the vastness of eternity.
Here’s whats going on with me: I quit my job and my flat in Staines where I had lived for seven years. Reasons for this were varied, but mostly because I wanted my life to go in a new direction for a bit. Together with my girlfriend, we gave everything up and moved in with my parents. Then within the next month, we both got jobs in Bristol and moved into a new flat. The furniture we had so casually discarded in Staines felt necessary and we rebuilt our lives from the ground up. There was a whole lot of other things going on that I won’t go into but basically the last few months have been a rapid series of extreme changes to my whole life. Mostly for my sanity, I thought I’d write down what I’ve learned.
I was stagnating in Staines. I wasn’t developing as a person, just punching the clock and watching the days slip by. I needed to make a big change or I’d just be running on the spot for a few years more. So quitting everything and moving to another city was absolutely the right thing to do. It’s revitalized my interest in so many things and I’m glad I took the risk. But it’s also terrifying. Between me and my girlfriend, we saved up a decent chunk of money before we moved and I still didn’t think it was enough. The whole experience was akin to jumping off a cliff with no idea what lies below. We just had to do it, but for a long month or two, it was incredibly stressful. Were we going to get jobs? What were our future lives going to look like? We had no idea. So there was a lot of unknowns to deal with and a reasonably long period of flux. I’m only just settling into my new life and into my new routine. I’m looking around thinking ‘Did I just do that?’
For all the instability, we were in a very privileged position in the last few months. We had enough savings to move. We had my parents who had space and were happy to put us up. We found jobs relatively quickly. I was aware while we were making this change that we were very lucky. All the Pinterest inspiration blogs always say reach for the stars and follow your dreams, but they never consider the practicalities.There’s always external consequences and it’s never as simple as just following your dream. To be able to take a leap in the dark is a privilege in itself.
I had a lot more spare time for a couple of months because I wasn’t working. This is prime writing time, long hours stretching out into the future. Whole days that can be spent at a desk, pen in hand.
Yeah, I didn’t really write anything.
There was too much going on, too much stress and pressure that writing seemed to be an unnecessary pressure that I just couldn’t do. Personally, I think my creativity thrives on constraints and routine. When I can write all the time, I end up writing nothing. Much better to have a regular hour or two to myself around a working week so I can focus on the writing in a concentrated amount of time.
At the same time, I felt a constant pressure to write more. To always be producing. I think it’s something a lot of creative people struggle with. However much you write or create it’s never enough. And if you’re not producing anything it feels like the pits.
The only way to forgive yourself. I can’t write in the chaos, so I had to just try to tell myself I would write when I was ready. It made me realize how much of my creative work generated worries and self-made pressure. You have to let it go because it’s not going to be helpful.
So what now? I’m back in a writing routine. The works in progress are coming along. I’m working on a book of poetry which combines my backouts with poems and also a book of sci-fi short stories. I’m going to keep updating this blog, probably every two weeks instead of every one. One week I’ll write this blog, the other week I’ll send out a newsletter. This will hopefully give me time and space to really make this blog the best I can as well as time to work on the works in progress. The topics are still going to be scattershot. I had considered just making this about writing or about poetry, but I don’t want to limit myself to just one topic. I’d probably get more hits if I focused it, but I want it to be honest to my interests, which are all over the place. So expect some more flash fiction, some ranting about politics and some general ramblings about life and art and that.
Stick around. I’m still figuring this out, but it’s going to be fun.