Middle-way Work Ethic

The perennial question: should you create things when you’re not “in the mood” to create?

I typically hear two lines of argument. Yes, you should (because creativity is as much a habit to be cultivated as it is a gift to be shared and enjoyed); and no, you shouldn’t (because what you create reflects the mood in which you create it–joy begets joy, dispair begets dispair).

What do you think? Both have their pros and cons:

 Yes, create! No, hold off…
+ you inculcate a habit
+ you learn to make small steps toward a goal
+ even a small bit of creativity can perk up your bad mood
+ bad moods can make you resent the work you’re doing
+ creativity becomes a chore
+ you can cook dinner…
– you may grow tired of the process
– you may come to resent that you “have” to make things
– too much holding off, and you get out of the practice of making things
– you probably have a deadline to meet (let’s be honest) and waiting doesn’t do you any good

Given the above, I’m in favor of a mixed approach.

Yes, you should create even when you’re not in the mood… you can get lifted out of that funk and can start to appreciate your work as work-in-progress (instead of getting into the mindset that all work needs to be completed in one sitting).

But no, you should not push it too hard. If you notice that you are resenting your work, drop it for a few minutes. Take a walk. Make a cup of tea. Write in your journal (or, ahem… blog). You may find that you’re soon more willing to pick up your project and start at it again after you’ve cleared up some headspace to enjoy your work again.

So to you, my consumate procrastinator, the one who only works when she “wants” to, I say, “get over yourself.”

And to you, my workaholic, whose fingers are sore from too much crafting, too much strain–whose eyes are bleary with fatigue… take a break. For the love of goodness, take a break.

Then get back to it.


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