Last month, I was fortunate to take 1.5 weeks of paid vacation. This is the first time in my career where I’ve been in a position to do so. Having just bought a car for the first time in eight years, I couldn’t justify the funds to make an epic journey across the globe.
Instead, I went to visit my family for the Kentucky Derby, taking one of my good friends with me. It was her first visit to Louisville, and one of the best times to be in the city. When we returned to Maryland, I took the rest of the week off to rest and recharge.
My first ever stay-cation.
What Would It Be Like to Write Full Time?
I decided I would take those five days and focus solely on my writing – whether that be content for this blog, my book or additions to my fictional “spy” story. And it was wonderful. I wrote about 3,000 words per day. I realized early on in the week that I can’t sit for very long. So, I took walks during the day. Sometimes, I had bourbon in the afternoon. Because I could.
And when I wasn’t feeling inspired, I read or colored. I let myself be. I always wondered if I could manage writing full-time. Would I get anxious? Would I get bored? Could I stick to deadlines? Could I stay focused? I certainly wasn’t writing Virginia Woolf-level prose, but I was writing. And that made me so satisfied at the end of the day that it didn’t matter if I would completely revise what I had written the next day. It didn’t matter that I may never use those words.
Writing is a process. And so is creativity. When I returned to my job the following week, it was hard to reconcile the bureaucracy and lack of inspiration. My 9-5 hasn’t always been this way. I remember once coming home full of energy, but certain organizational changes have stripped any momentum that was once there.
It’s times like these that I depend on other opportunities to satisfy my creative needs. I recently took on an opportunity to strategize and manage editorial content for an organization dedicated to helping professionals find a career they love. I’ve had so much fun exploring content, getting back into design and creating a consistent voice and style. I love developing brands. I wish I spent more time on my own.
But I’ll never forget a conversation I had with the founder of this organization after compiling a new look for the weekly newsletter we were re-launching.
“Tracy,” he said to me over the phone, “I want you to own this. Just take it. Change it. Do whatever you need to. I trust your judgment.”
I almost cried. Someone trusted me. Someone had faith in my abilities. I hadn’t realized that the bureaucracies and office politics plaguing my own career had affected my confidence and willingness to innovate. Since then, I’ve stopped trying to appease people. I’ve taken something and made it whole. And not every newsletter is perfect. But any effective strategy requires risk. To be creative is to take a risk.
A Creative Path
I hope one day to become that full-time writer. I can see myself walking along a nature path in the middle of the day or taking a nap because my energy levels are a little low. I can see myself visiting an arboretum for inspiration or listening to a podcast to research my latest book. I can see myself just being.
Already in the past month, since I’ve set aside resources to feed my creative energies, I’ve seen a vast improvement in my overall mood and well-being. I feel less anxious and more hopeful. I have new levels of energy to do things that would normally take weeks to accomplish. I keep going and am waiting for that wall to drop. But it never does.
I don’t believe I will always be this upbeat or at peace with my circumstances. But for the moment, I feel satisfied. I’ll take it.
Here’s to creative living.