How you handle the inevitable distractions, dips, and dives of life determines if you can get unstuck and stay unstuck.
Distractions are the little things we can live with and without. Watching one rerun of Seinfeld or House, M.D. is o.k. but if you make watching a weekend marathon a priority ahead of your creative projects, you’ve got problems. Do this once, o.k. Do this every time, goodbye creative life. Watch out for your “soft addictions” as Judith Wright calls them. These socially acceptable distractions will get you. Come to turns with what distracts you, find out how to allow a bit of distraction, but also figure out how to handle being overwhelmed by them. Set limits.
Dips are changes—planned and unplanned—that come into your life and knock you off your plan for a week, a few weeks, or a month. For example, two months ago we got a puppy. Despite knowing how to self-coach which means understanding time management, I was expecting to maintain my creative life schedule like it was before the puppy arrived. Crazy! The puppy has largely tipped me off balance with change in sleep habits, living arrangements, etc. Fortunately, things are getting back to normal or perhaps I’m getting more use to the situation. Next time, before my next dip or as soon as possible when I find myself in a dip (i.e. car breaks down), I’m going to revise my plans and come up with more realistic expectations. I will add those expectations to my calendar and I will revise them as needed, but I will keep my creative life before me as much as possible so I don’t lose it.
Dives are like dips but they hit us in more profound ways. A death, a divorce, a fire, an illness, and other major events will drive our creative lives away for lengthy periods. Expect that but also throw some dates on your calendar to take a look at your creative life. No matter how messed your life is, keep a short appointment with yourself to determine if there is some time and energy you can scrap together to invest in your creative life. Keep putting down dates in your calendar until you can find an actual day life starts to feel like you can pick up the pieces again. Be easy on yourself. Pick up one piece at a time but keep picking them up. Before you know it, you will have pieced things back together. Your creative life will slowly reemerge.