The Myth of Business as Usual
Clamber onto the soap box
It’s usually when I’m in the midst of unencumbered free-flowing creativity that I want to clamber to the rooftops and wax lyrical about the creative process and following your True North. Those (albeit usually brief) periods are absolutely glorious, filling you with inspiration, motivation, energy and hope for the future. But that’s not reality from day to day, and probably, isn’t reality for most people that have to engage with the mechanisms of everyday life either. So, let’s talk about that. I’ll be honest, she ain’t pretty and she certainly ain’t Instagram worthy.
How to laugh until you cry
Sometimes I turn to my husband and ask, “When are we going to have a year when it’s just ‘business as usual?’” And then we laugh and laugh and laugh. In the midst of the all-consuming demands of running a family, dairy farm and earthquake rebuild, I’m trying to scrape together crumbs of time to dedicate to my writing projects. It feels worse than a joke, it feels more like a bad pun. (And as an aside, isn’t it funny that we refer to running a business, or running a household? That’s a very specific and appropriate pace to attach to those duties. If anyone has mastered strolling, or better, perambulating, a business, household or the like, please share your wisdom).
It’s pretty easy to get down on yourself about achieving neither the amount, nor the quality, of work you’d hoped. Then the shame of being inauthentic and unreliable actually acts as another obstacle to being productive. There’s days that go by when you haven’t been able to contribute anything at all to your creative pursuits. I mean, I am SO far away from doing ‘morning pages’ right now, it would be an act of self-harm to even try. So, how the hell can you stay on track towards your goals, and in the creative flow, when you feel like a fraud because the everyday is owning your ass?
It would be very easy to quit on your passion projects when things get that way. Because, if I’m not doing anything, it feels like it doesn’t exist. Or, you trick yourself into thinking that you’ll just pick up where you left off when life gets easier. When I hear myself thinking, ‘It’ll be easier when…’ I have to slap myself hard and fast. There will always be life to run around whatever I want to be working on. So, no matter how hard it is to remain committed, no matter how ugly and irregular that creative time looks, there will never be a valid enough reason to give it up or postpone it.
My career is still in its infancy, and just like having an infant, I’ve found it can be very helpful to repeat mantras like, ‘this too will pass,’ or, ‘it’s just a phase,’ or, ‘tomorrow’s another day,’ (as you sit rocking in the corner). Things are never as broken and irreparable as you might believe they are. They’re just where they are at on that particular day and you just have to work with what you’ve got. Every day is different, there’s no need to hold a grudge against yourself.
Don’t fear, everything is going to be ok. If the best you can do is just to continue to scrape crumbs of time together, then just keep doing it. The sun will come up tomorrow, and as unexpectedly as you find there may be no crumbs of time, you may also actually stumble across a crust! Happy days! Dine out on that, fortune can go both ways. But, no matter how much you might veer off course, just keep the intention to come back, again and again and again.
Staking your claim in creativity
Sometimes, if I can’t make it to writing, I just try to do something, anything, as a nod to the energy of the creative flow. It could be as minor as putting a little effort and imagination into cooking dinner, or taking more consideration with the clothes I wear for the day, because the combination of colours makes me feel happy, or, the fabric is soft. Maybe it’s taking a picture to post on Instagram because the composition is pleasing. It doesn’t matter, the point is, it is staking a claim in creativity. It is a grateful nod to that part of myself and my commitment to honour it, however small the gesture may be.
Any old art form
I once met a man whose art was walking. I was a little bit like, ‘okaaaaay…’ but now I totally get it. It really doesn’t matter how you demonstrate your art, it could be anything, the sensation of generating creative energy is exactly the same.
I’ve come to learn that walking is a writer’s best friend, so that guy was, it turns out, onto something, not, as I first assumed, on something. The combination of movement, being in nature, absorbing the sights and sounds of the world around you, and simply existing in ‘the now’ does amazing things for the brain (as well as stopping you trip over tree roots). Importantly, as well as supplying your brain with blood and oxygen, helpful for creativity, it allows that hot little computer in your head to defragment, and suddenly – clarity, creativity, problem solving, bliss.
Rebel with a cause
So, because it’s Sunday, and to fly in the face of the tyranny of to-do lists, I took a long walk (which I happily posted to Instagram) as a pure act of rebellion. It was the most flipping glorious act of kindness to my creative self. Now, I can retain my sense of humour about the myth of ‘business as usual,’ and muster the courage to stay the course, regardless of how ugly, irregular or un-instagramable the everyday might be.