What I learned from taking a creative break

At first, I didn't want to take a break. I had so many plans, so many dreams, my 2017 laid out in a spreadsheet. I didn't have time for a break. 

But it's when we feel like we don't have time that we need a break the most. 

I tried to ignore the little voice in my head that kept whispering that I needed to stop, to rethink and reconsider. 

After weeks of trying to push through stress and a nagging feeling that I might be running in the wrong direction, I gave up and decided to hit pause.

For three weeks, I created nothing.

I ignored social media and all the inspiring emails that kept popping up in my inbox. It felt odd at first, but then I relaxed into reading, taking care of myself and spending time with friends and family.

For two weeks, I asked myself what I wanted my creative life to look like, and what wasn't working.

Now, when my five week long creative break is over, I'm deeply thankful that I didn't keep running. This is what I've learned.

I need creativity to live my life to the fullest

While I needed a break badly and enjoyed taking a step back, I missed creating so much. Suddenly I didn't have an outlet for creativity in my life and I found myself frustrated at times, longing to let out that energy.

It reminded me of what my life was like before my Fear Year, and I knew I didn't want to go back.

I never considered to stop creating, but before my break I felt burned out and tired of my projects. My energy was running low and I realized I needed to rethink my creative life. 

It was a relief to miss my creativity. Just like in relationships, distance and longing gave me the spark back that had grown weak from schedules, stress, metrics and self-imposed rules.

Knowing I wanted to go on, I gave my schedule a long, hard look and accepted the truth.

I'm creating at a pace that isn't healthy

During my Fear Year, I worked on my creative projects on Saturdays and Sundays. After pushing down my creativity for years, I had so much energy and I feared losing momentum and falling back into a creative block again.

It worked for many months, but creating takes mind power and energy isn't infinite. We need to recharge and relax to stay happy, healthy and creative.

So I need a new plan, and this is what I've decided.

1. I want my regular weekends to include one day of creating and one day of something else - resting or socializing or adventuring. This means I'm going to create at a slower pace and I'm okay with that, because it will be a happier, healthier one.

2. For the blog, it means I'm switching to blog posts every other week. I would love to stay with weekly posts, but in this season, the biweekly pace will be right for me.

3. I'm only going to have one project at a time going on beside the blog. I've decided to let go of one project in particular: Expedition Daringland. It's a story-based email course I've laid out the groundwork for, but it's going to take quite a lot of time and effort to finish. Right now, I've decided that there are other projects I would rather spend my time on. I think I'm going to come back to it in the future because I love the concept, but for now it'll have to rest.

4. I'm going to move my art shop over to Etsy and I'm considering trying out Society6 too. I want see if I can reach more people with my art on those platforms, instead of trying to doing it all by myself. I'm also really excited about joining those communities! I'll tell you more about the transition when the move is happening.

To create less isn't especially fun, but I feel really, really good about this new schedule. I want my creative life to be sustainable in the long run, and I think this will help a whole lot.

After rethinking my level of output, I also reconsidered what I'm creating, and I found a longing for a slight change...  

I want to write about more than creating bravely

Doing a creative Fear Year was incredibly important for me. I grew so much in my creativity and I learned a lot about myself. 2016 was fun, challenging and overall amazing. 

I fell in love with how fear and courage affect your creativity. But I fell in love with the process of creating too, of what living a creative life looks like and with the psychology of creating. 

I want to write about all the messy parts of creativity, not just fear. 

I still believe that facing your creative fears is so important if you want to live a creative life, and it will still be a big part of my writing, but I also want to write about things like stress, finding clarity and the reality of going after our dreams. Maybe even diving into the craft every now and then.

Much of what I want to write about have already crept into this blog and during my break I realized I want my whole online presence, my brand if you will, to reflect that. And - I want my love for a slower pace to be represented too.

I'll be working on the changes the upcoming weeks, and for now, I'm just gonna say this: there will be lots of creativity and teacups. 

Your path is always changing

I took this creative break with the knowledge that some things needed to change. I knew I needed to ask myself some hard questions and I wasn't sure what answers I would find. 

To reconsider a part of your life that you love is scary. But to not change when a change is needed is a recipe for disaster.

It's okay to ask yourself whether you want to keep going in the same direction. It's okay to change your mind on something you love.

In fact, if you're not adjusting your course as you go, there's a risk you're going in a direction that isn't right for you anymore. Don't keep going just because it's what you once decided.

So if you're a romance writer suddenly longing to write crime novels, don't just ignore it. Or if you're an artist with a colorful, flowery style, don't be scared if you find yourself wanting to make everything in black and white.

Adjusting your path is part of growing as a creative and if you let yourself stretch and change, you never know what you'll create. Thrilling, isn't it?