I’ve been in a maker slump as of late. Somewhat different than a creative slump, I have ideas in spades, projects to work on, and no lack of direction on how to start them.
So how come it seems like I need a 12 step program for napping?
These maker slumps are something I’ve been known to have, though typically they don’t last as long as this one, which has been creeping up on me for a few weeks. Perhaps it’s the late summer in Seattle, and a particularly nice one at that, that makes it hard to sit in front of the computer some days and grind it out when you know the rainy season is right around the corner. I did recently get and get over my annual sinus infection/allergy phase, which has been known to kick these slumps into gear and give them enough momentum to outlast the actual mild discomfort.
I’m writing this post as an exercise in trying to break out of the slump by acknowledging it, and hopefully getting at some root causes. Hopefully I can identify some of the habits that keep me in the slump, and some that I am forgetting about that work well for me during productive periods.
A few that I know right off the bat that are perpetuating the slump:
- Slowly ramping up my coffee and energy drink intake over the last two months, resulting in a net loss of sustained energy and a lot more peakiness, but less actual functional brain power.
- Spending too much time thinking about the slump, and in many ways beating myself up about it.
- Recently (and happily) got involved with some local community groups and expanded my social circle, so my mind is naturally a little more interested in human interaction and things usually forgotten, like “going outside.”
- A lack of exercise that usually leads to a general malaise is having greater repercussions than it has in my younger years.
Having gone through a similar, though paradoxical period last winter, where I’d wake up and write/code/create and look up and it would be 8-12 hours later with no effort, it is encouraging to realize that while right now is frustrating, it tends to be a temporary condition.
As recently mentioned, I have curbed (somewhat) my sharing of each and everything I do on social media, there’s no need to time-stamp every time I’m going to the bathroom into the annals of internet history (when else do people play Candy Crush?).
The writing of this and perhaps this cup of coffee (still on first one, amazing how doing something lowers that consumption) has jogged my memory on a few things that I tend to do (or not do) when I’m in effortless crush-it mode.
- I consciously spend less time on media I need to actively focus on. So video of almost all sorts is out, other than some TWiST or Mixergy on occasional eating breaks. Music with words is eliminated, and I listen to some favorite streaming options, as opposed to playlists that I have to actively choose.
- I let the phone go to voicemail, and usually have it in quiet mode, or occasionally airplane mode if particularly deep into the zone. I turn it on during smoke/food breaks to check messages.
- I eat breakfast and take a 20-30 minute walk in the morning. Breakfast might be an Access bar or a banana, but it helps get my metabolism moving out of sloth mode.
- I write more. A friend told me to do this a few years ago after he read The Artists Way, and after finally trying it, I said to myself “get the f%$& out of here, this actually works!” Turns out getting stuff out of my head and onto paper or pixel helps me get closer to the “mind like water” state that is so crucial to getting things done. A ton of it ends up in my pocket notebook, Evernote, or slips of paper on my desk, with some ending up here.
Well damn, that felt good to get on paper and get out of my system, I think that’s been gestating in me for a bit.
I’m off for a walk, some breakfast and when I get back to the desk, I’m going to start out with some Sonic Universe. Happy Saturday, loyal readers, and enjoy whatever phase of the creative and creating spectrum you may be in. Could be just your batteries recharging.