“Feed Me,” Said The Muse

A couple of months ago I made the decision to give myself a full week every month devoted to stoking the fires of my creativity.

It’s not that I didn’t have time to create. It was more about the way my creative time was chopped into smaller bits strewn about my calendar.

I was responsible for all that strewing about, thinking, as I often do, that I’d seamlessly transition from whatever I’d been doing, dive into the deep end of the creative pool, and be instantly productive!

Cute idea, but if you know me at all, you know how that played out…

Let me tell on myself: I’m one of those people who (almost) always thinks I can fit more into an hour than I can. While I’ve made progress, I still notoriously attempt to squeeze ten minutes of work into an “I have five more minutes before I have to leave” block, and yes, I’m late for lunch.

Now, if you’re one of those folks who’s already on edge because you’ve been led to believe that there’s a rule saying people who are late have little or no respect for others… I love you, I respect you – and really, my relationship to the task over time equation is so not about you…

But I digress.

I learned, in the ramp-up to my first creative week, that when I see all that time on my calendar, there’s a strong temptation to find other things – aka distractions – to fill it with.

For instance, I imagined slipping a couple of visits with friends and family into a couple of days. I even started planning a get-together with Sam, a friend I haven’t seen since she moved back from California months ago…

I caught myself in the act of arranging to be late for lunch with my own muse.

Key moment: I caught myself.

One of the most challenging things I see in my clients and myself is that, because we’re often “other” focused in our work, we put our own desires and needs on the back burner. A culture that loves a good sacrifice story, that goes head-over-heels for tales of taking one for the team, tells us doing so is the act of a noble warrior.

But the cumulative cost of continually moving to the back of the line can be high, and it doesn’t take long to find one’s self out of balance, wondering where the enjoyment and/or fulfillment ran off to.

The same kind of thing happens when one invites, reaches for or otherwise indulges in distraction: The important stuff gets shoved to the back of the line.

The clock keeps ticking – and the satisfaction that comes with focus and productivity slips away.

Given what I know about myself, particularly what nourishes my creativity and builds expressive momentum, a smattering of one-hour time blocks every week was not a formula for success.

I was constantly late for lunch – metaphorically and literally. (I fought a pattern of squeezing in just… one… more… task… before heading to the kitchen, leaving myself little time for a bite to eat.)

From the viewpoint of a fast-moving, git ‘er done yesterday culture, a monthly creative week may seem over-the-top.

That’s nice.

Thanks for your input culture, and by the way, I didn’t ask.

From the angle of walking my talk, I’m in total, clear, conscious alignment.

Is this the sort of thing everyone can do?

No. Of course not.

Is the culture addicted to going too fast for its own bloody good?

Yes, I think we have more than enough burn-out stories to serve as evidence.

Part of my job is to help clients bust up patterns and break free of the status quo. When I catch myself in a pattern, self-imposed or otherwise, that isn’t working…

Let’s put it this way: If I’m going to ask others to take pucker-inducing steps, I’d best be willing to do the same.

My muse said, “Feed me.”

I paid attention.

Let’s see what happens.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject, what’s a pattern you’re running that’s costing more than it’s worth?