Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Sometimes, Powering Through is the Wrong Answer

 Last year, I began trying to focus on creativity over productivity, at least when it came to my writing. I had hit a rough patch, one that left me questioning whether writing was a part of my past, rather than a pursuit I wanted to continue. My old routines weren't working, my projects weren't sufficiently inspiring, and I was struggling.

This year, I'm in a much better place, thanks in part to the February Writing Challenge I tackled last year. Funny, but I had all but forgotten about it until I began reviewing past posts for today's post. 

Sometimes, our routines are just what we need. Other times, we need to shake things up. Trying something new helped me to let go of old habits that weren't working and to replace them with new ways of doing things. I still have difficult writing days, but loosening my grip has proven to be much more effective than gritting my teeth and putting my to-do list in a chokehold. Some days, the words and motivation come. Other days, one shows up without the other -- or neither one is anywhere to be found. Last year's experiment reminded me that all that means is that I have a choice: I can power through, I can try something different, or I can let it go and remember that tomorrow is another day. 

qimono via Pixabay

Yesterday marked six days into The Writer 28 Day Word Challenge I've been doing. The word was "fizzle" and that's exactly what my writing did.

But that's okay. One of my purposes in taking on this challenge was to write every day and, just a week into this project, I've been successful in that pursuit. One day, I barely made it in under the wire, but I made it.

Another goal was to shake things up -- to boost my creativity and come at my writing from a new angle. So, when the word "fizzle" conjured up nothing useful, I went a different way, using the word as an acrostic and brainstorming as many interesting words as I could to go with each letter. I may never use them for any specific purpose, but it was fun playing with language. 

This word challenge is part of a bigger picture. This year, I'm inviting creativity in. I still have projects with finite goals, but focusing on productivity and goal-oriented writing have left me stymied and in danger of losing all the joy that writing can bring. It was time to rediscover the love of the written word that made me want to write in the first place.

So I'm doing something new. I'm investigating sketchnoting, podcasting, and word-a-day challenges, including the craze du jour, Wordle. I'm creating graphics for my Facebook group page and wrapping my writing in broader pursuits, hoping that new approaches will feed the muse, who seems to have grown tired of the steady diet of closed loop tasks I keep giving her. 

Doing something new gives us the luxury of being more playful. Stepping out of our usual tasks and stepping back from our usual targets gives us the freedom to worry less about being perfectly productive. And ironically, if past experience is any indication, freeing ourselves of the need to be perfectly productive can, in the end, lead us to approach the same old tasks with a brand new energy.

As winter persists before tiptoeing slowly into spring, I want to bring in my own sunlight. To do this, I'll be on the lookout for new creative pursuits, or opportunities to involve myself in old ones, with the common denominator being the freedom to explore and create instead of persist and finish. I'm not giving up on my finite projects; I'm just making them a part of something bigger that I hope will nourish and sustain them -- and me. 

What new thing will you try in the gray days of winter?

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