If you have been a long time follower of my projects or content, you would know I’m prone to abruptly taking time off for up to months at a time. I used to think this was an issue, but lately, I have come to look at it as more of a feature than a bug.
Over the years, I’ve written a couple times about the need to cultivate empty space, or the need to lay fallow. I’ve found it important in my creative process, to allow for regular downtime.
I almost envy those who can keep producing almost indefinitely. Our present digital models of content creation and attention farming pressures us to constantly be at the wheel, spinning, creating and publishing. This is however a recipe for burnout, and can at its worst, turn this thing you like to do, this passion into an unfulfilling prison.
I am here to advocate that it is okay to approach creative work seasonally. Many entertainment producers operate in this way, think of your favourite musicians, authors, or even TV shows. Creatives like these release projects, with extended downtime in between them. Your favourite artist could release an album today, do a tour for a year or so, and then disappear for another 2 years before the next project.
I think that working in this way is more sustainable for numerous reasons.
- It allows things to end, to have a definite start date and an end date. Indefinite projects can be overwhelming. This way things are more manageable.
- You can use the downtime to rest, recover, live and gather inspiration and ideas for the next project. Goodbye burnout, hello relaxed productivity.
- It is in line with other things in our natural world that operate in seasons like daylight, weather conditions. Take a hint from Mother Nature.
- If you are the type to indulge in multiple projects, like me, you can cycle between your interests instead of being stuck doing the same thing over and over.
To pull this off, you would need a few things in place
- Be organised. I can’t tell you how much great it is to settle back into my work after some time away and slip right back into my notes and drafts and be able to pick up right where I left off, knowing that I’m clear on what I was doing before and where I was going. Be organised in your work space and work flow.
- Approach your projects as discrete pieces. Take a seasonal approach to your work. If you are doing a podcast, instead of committing to an indefinite schedule, decide to do a season of 10 episodes, and make them as good as you can. Then allow yourself to take some time off.
- Practice in the off season. Don’t completely shut down when you are not publishing projects. Use that time to improve, to hone your skills, develop new techniques and prepare to take your work to the next level on your next run.
- Focus on making Perennial Sellers, timeless content or classics. Instead of chasing fads or trends, create things that will last, that will be relevant even 10 years from now. Things that people would always need to come back to.
In this way, we can enjoy longer, deeper and more fulfilling creative careers.