All four wheels have fallen off my car. In the last 19 weeks, I have written only 6 blogs, after nearly two years of regularly weekly postings. How did this happen? Because I have gotten so consumed in my book project that I have abandoned important creative, domestic, and spiritual routines that help keep my world in balance. If Jesus himself had come into my studio a couple of weeks ago, I’m certain I would have said “Sorry, buddy, can’t talk. On a deadline.”
It Happened Innocently Enough
When I missed my first Friday blog deadline somewhere back in January, I thought to myself, “It’s okay. No one will notice. I’ll just do it Monday” which was a nice way of ignoring an important red flag that craziness was ahead while dismissing the value of my work at the same time. Monday, of course, came and went. And since I’d already missed one Friday blog, it was easier to miss the next one. And the next one. So an important connection to the world outside the New Hampshire woods was broken, and I felt more isolated than ever. Believe me, isolated is the LAST thing you want to feel while working on a book, or any important project like raising a child, building a business, or caring for an aging parent.
But in my mind, this was a necessary sacrifice. The (real and imagined) pressure was building and I convinced myself I didn’t have time for anything else. There is no room for error! the voices in my head screamed. An hour away from the project will make a difference! If I take my eye off the ball for one second it will fail! Everything depends on me! I am not a well person sometimes.
It’s a Very Slippery Slope
In the meantime, stacks of mail piled up, a lot of rotisserie chickens were purchased for dinner (imagine Alan Arkin’s reaction to chicken again for dinner in “Little Miss Sunshine”), and domestic chaos ensued. Then I got very sick (still recovering) causing me to miss out on two trips I’d been eagerly awaiting. And of course when I got sick, I couldn’t work out, so instead of feeling lean and mean I felt (and still feel) sluggish and frumpy.
Fortunately, several people reminded me this week that I need to take time for myself and other projects, no matter how much pressure I feel. That a day here or an hour there will not derail the book — it may in fact, help ensure its success. They also suggested I go get my hair dyed, because I’m three weeks overdue and I’m starting to look scary.
So here’s what I’ve learned: Yes, big creative projects require intense focus. Yes, deadlines are important. And yes, big challenges mean big rewards. But when you neglect those things that keep you balanced — connection, your health, and personal grooming (Nice ‘n Easy Box 112, here I come), it’s time to push the reset button and get back on track.
And now, just for fun, the trailer for “Little Miss Sunshine.” Such a good movie.
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