Last week, I didn’t put up a post.
It wasn’t because I didn’t have one prepared, or I’d run out of things to say (never!). I’d written it in advance, knowing that August is usually a hot mess of a month for me, and all I had to do was hit “Publish.” But when I read over what I’d created, I got that twisty little knot in my stomach that surfaces when something just isn’t right. The words were clunky. The messages was convoluted. And even though I’d written it only a few weeks prior, it no longer rang true for me.
I realized that it was time to realign and readjust, and I immediately felt relief.
So often with creative work—and blogs definitely fall in that category, no matter what you’re waxing poetic about—we emphasize the product. The polished manuscript. The flawless piece of art. A grammatically perfect and innovative blog post. We plan and outline and research in order to get from nothing to finished product in the shortest amount of time. We dream up big plans and invest so much time into making them just right, that often we’re unwilling to stray from the outline when we’re in the midst of our projects, even when it’s no longer working for us. I know I’ve been guilty of this a million and a half times. I also know that I’ve had to rip up and rewrite many, many pieces because of it.
Creative work always involves some level of destruction and starting over, it’s just now I listen and change course a lot sooner and with a lot less heartbreak.
I realized, with this blog, that I still love to produce it. I love the content I’m generating, and I still find it enjoyable. The problem was that because I’d mapped out this months-long plan to blog every week, complete with every topic set from now until 2016, I hadn’t built in enough freedom. Some people work well with a strict deadline and enjoy that sort of structure and routine. Personally, I find it stifling.
I realized I wanted to put out the best content possible, and in order to do that, I needed to give myself time to draw from and ruminate on my own real-life experiences in between post. Forcing myself to churn out weekly content no matter what meant that I would end up putting up stuff just to put up stuff, and that’s never been my intention for any of my creative work.
So I’ve ripped up the whole plan. I’ve gone back to the beginning and asked myself these three questions, the questions I ask myself before I start any project:
What do I want to get from this project?
What do I want to put out there with this project?
Will this make me happy?
My thoughts have shifted since I put this plan together last year, and I wouldn’t expect it any differently. I’ve shifted since then, and so my work must go with me. I realized that I need more space + freedom now that I ever have, and this blog needs to reflect that. For me, that means opening up the posting calendar and giving myself time to listen to my own experiences. It means posting when I’ve crafted something that I’m proud of, not just because of some arbitrary schedule I set for myself.
I want you to think of a project that you’ve been working on, something that you know in your heart isn’t quite working anymore. Ask yourself how creating it nourishes you, how it could nourish others (even if that means that you’re just a more content person by creating it, so the people around you are happier), and if it still makes you happy. If it’s making you more miserable than joyful, it’s more than likely that your life or perspective has changed, and it’s time for your work to follow your lead.
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