This weekend's challenging question: IDENTIFY AND MAKE A LIST OF DISTRACTIONS THAT GET IN THE WAY OF YOUR CREATIVE WORK AND STOP YOU DOING IT, EVEN WHEN YOU REALLY WANT TO!
After working out strategies to reclaim time I am able to actually have time to be creative, but for this year my main problem is exhaustion/fatigue/sleepiness from extreme tiredness. I have the bit of time but I don't have the energy despite pushing with all my will.
This is most pronounced when I have to do dayjob work because it drains me that much. My brain is like soup after a day of tending to dayjob tasks. My body is pulled by gravity with double the force. Bone-deep tiredness that messes up even my spiritual equilibrium. It is a rather unique effect because housework and regular daily life errands that have nothing to do with dayjob do not tire me out in the same way -- I even include chores in my schedule as a way of "loosening up" for creative work, sometimes even meditative.
But dayjob work in whatever form, taxes my mental, physical, and emotional energies -- the cultivation of the work laugh and the sustenance of the work persona, is a full-on performance for 6-8 hours that leave me good for not much else at the end of the day. The invisible strain of keeping oneself "on-call" for the duration of the weekday office hours. Keeping convincingly alive an old self that should have been laid to rest in a mausoleum somewhere. But this world still needs such characters and it seems I have been tasked to be one, and to continue to do so until such time that I have the means to liberate myself. I have been constantly designing and re-designing the ways I conduct my dayjob work but despite keeping the processes lean and essential, the reality of what it takes out of me cannot be controlled because it is my nature to turn out good, proper work and I cannot abide by short-changing anyone (even when sometimes I am the one short-changed by demands for discounts and unreasonable deadlines). The payment is in my mental power, physical power, emotional power -- a synchronised effort to suspend disbelief as I momentarily set aside some core life values in order to perform for a job that embraces contrary ones.
I have the time, the materials are ready, but my mind and body clamour for rest. It is very difficult to fight that. I can make myself sit in the studio, make myself hold a pen, start digging through the creative ideas that I have no shortage of, and then somehow I find a way of sleeping with my eyes open, a semblance of wakefulness but really a zombie.
Solutions? Coffee does not work, I am immune to it. I'm thinking maybe vitamins? To help stir up energy-producing cells or something. I am extremely lousy with sticking to any exercise routine to increase my stamina, and there is no space at home for yoga or quiet meditation. I do walking rounds when possible but there are very limited places to do so at very limited times in an endlessly bustling city. My need for solitude and silence to fully recharge are very rarely met -- I have been making do with makeshift set-ups and imagination. In the end, I am only able to restock enough energy to get me through the next day, and if a dayjob project uses up that energy I end up with a negative amount --- because the dayjob will always take something more, a painful bite from somewhere else deeper that would have me limping for a while before I regain my balance.
Current temporary solutions I have in attempts to trick a tired mind and body to anything creative:
- naps that last 1-1.5 hours after getting home from dayjob work, then dinner -- this gives me a 1-1.5 hour window to do things like bathe and prepare the work things for the next day, and do the work updates, and then read something that would trigger the creative seeds (I last less than hour before I am dozing off again).
- wake up extra early in the morning to gain an hour for daily pages -- which works for a few days of a project until I get so tired the night before that getting up at all the next working is a pain
- step out and take myself to a restaurant or cafe where I can't sleep, have a meal or coffee while writing or sketching -- the downside is the need to spend, and also, this often only lasts for an hour at most before I had to leave before I embarrass myself by falling asleep in my coffee cup
- I ask family members to do a few chores for me to lessen the tasks that would consume my energy : heating the bath water, cleaning the litter, picking up items in the supermarket, very small tasks that feel humongous when one is running on empty. The saved up energy then goes to something like a half-page scribble in the journal.
So my problem with the temporary solutions is that they still don't yield enough time for anything beyond doodling or random writing --- which are fine for a while but at some point I would feel that Need to do more and make more and produce something more tangible that can be sent out or shared with the world. Endless beginnings with no proper middles nor endings. A certain level of frustration builds up. (Sometimes I start getting cranky.)
I have trimmed down my life to such an extent that every activity has a service or purpose that helps my creativity and self-growth. The exhaustion from dayjob work puts all of that on hold for days if not weeks. So that is my biggest challenge now -- how to overcome the fatigue, how to fight it, so that I am able to make good creative use of the time I have managed to save and reclaim?
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I am an artist-in-progress. I started my creative journey in 2012 and have never stopped taking steps since. Always one step at a time. Always moving forward. It has been an increasingly tough and occasionally rewarding road.
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