I am really enjoying building a puppet. After years of working online, it’s so grounding and satisfying to work with my hands again. And while my digital work feels never-ending, creating a puppet is a finite activity; at some point it will be done. With a tangible outcome so close, I almost threw myself off balance the other night staying up late to keep working towards it.
Despite my sometimes wild life movements, my default is routine. On a practical level, I like to take as much decision-making out of my day as possible. That way, I get to focus my brain-power on the choices that will make the biggest difference in my life and work. On an emotional level, routine keeps my mental health stable so I can keep functioning as a human.
Still, inspiration hit and the justifications for pulling an all-nighter to get my puppet done started rolling in. I entertained them for a few hours even though I knew that something would inevitably go wrong and it would feel catastrophic as everything does at 3am. I went so far as to cancel my plans the next day before talking myself down from the ledge.
The feeling of inspiration would be there the next day and my head would be clearer after a full night’s sleep. What’s more, I wouldn’t completely throw off my body clock. While another 12-hour day making a puppet isn’t a balanced workday by any stretch of the imagination, it’s also not something that’s going to affect my schedule for days afterwards.
Instead of staying up late, I took a shower and read a short story. I got back into my body and discovered that I was, in fact, exhausted. I’m sure I fell asleep within moments of closing my eyes. As much as I would have liked to wake up further along in the construction process the next day, I also knew that I’d pay for those few extra hours of productivity.
As a creative, I’m guilty of letting the feeling of being inspired spin me out to the point where I’m incapable of doing my best work. Which is why I’m working on maintaining balance in my process whenever possible. It’s not as exciting as riding the manic highs of feeling inspired but there’s no doubt that I get more work done without compromising my health and wellbeing.
So, what helps you keep your balance when inspiration hits?