For the past 6 months or so I have had been working my dream job(s). I get paid to write music, film and edit videos, design promotional material and take photographs. I have creative freedom in almost every single aspect of my work.
I realize that at the age of 23, its rare to have the set-up that I have. I am very thankful to say the very least.
But if I am being totally honest (and at the risk of sounding painfully spoiled), I am pretty damn exhausted.
The truth is, when you are being paid to be creative and ship great ideas consistently, it is startlingly easy to stop trying to push the boundaries of your craft. You can start relying too heavily on your built-in abilities and forget about the joy and wonder that is found in challenging yourself to take your creations to the next level. Your projects become daily tasks that “need to get done” Which, if done over and over again, makes what was once your dream job, into just an ordinary job all over again.
I have found that the more I try and force my work to be inspiring, the more un-inspiring it actually is. I am learning that there truly are limitations on what I am able to give out before being filled again. I am a car running on empty, scraping from the fumes to keep moving. Gasping my way to the nearest station.
So what is the solution to an empty gas tank? You fill it up.
I am a firm believer in working through the hard days, and making things even when you don’t feel like it. But through this season of my creativity, I simply cannot deny the necessity of investing time into personal inspiration to be in your bones before your work can truly be satisfying.
Something has to give.
The problem is, I love working. In fact, working is my hobby. Because my hobbies are my work, so therefore my work is my hobby.
See how this can start getting a little messy?
I was constantly looking for another minute to work on whatever idea I was on that day. I needed time. Always more time. Always just another window that I could sit and crank out more stuff.
The more of these windows I made for myself by passing on hanging out with friends or watching a great movie or going on a walk, the more I sat, utterly dissatisfied in front of my work. Always working tirelessly on the next thing. Next, next, next. But there was something different here… I wasn’t having the slightest bit of fun.
I was not satisfied in my work. My songs were crap. My ideas were crap. And my time was turning into crap.
It took a long time for me to figure out that my brain was just turning into a mush of ideas, projects and dreams that had no way of coming to life in the state that I was approaching them.
I was running on fumes. I wasn’t investing in my inspirations, and it began to break me down.
The funny thing is that even on the hardest days I would convince myself that it was just “part of the job”. To have days of feeling completely drained and empty from my work. The truth was, is that I was avoiding filling up in order to do more. And if there is one thing I have learned, its that this mentality will only hinder your work.
I have found that the solution for me has been to do a little less, and soak a little more. I know that dry spells come into any creative persons path, and this won’t be my last bout with feeling void of great ideas, but I have learned that in order to keep running, I have to fill my tank. I have to invest in my own inspiration.