For the Mornings You Just Need a Break
Let me know if this happens to you as often as it does to me:
You prepare the night before; write down your tasks; go through a solid night routine. You read fiction to sleep and have a solid 8 hours.
Once the alarm rings, there’s this subtle moment when you, honestly, without a doubt, don’t want to wake up. You want to stay here.
Then the fog clears. Always. Once you remember why you did what you did, it always clears. But it will be back tomorrow.
The past two months, I’ve spent stuck in that fog. Personal reasons, mostly. I had to take care of my health. I think that’s an excellent reason to pause everything and focus on it. Without a healthy body and mind, most things are pointless.
Not just to you, but the people around you as well. You can’t perform when you’re unwell. And if you’re not inadequate mental space, you can quickly become a not so nice person to be around.
The fog is that space between wanting to stay and do nothing and then doing something before “feeling” like it.
The bad thing about taking breaks — or staying in the fog — is that whatever tasks you wrote now need to be accomplished. In my case, not writing for almost a month has been angst-inducing.
Although I knew that the break was necessary, there were moments when I wish I didn’t need it: moments when I wanted to turn off the alarm and sleep.
But like the clearing of the fog, there were many more moments when I felt at peace for taking care of things more severe than my desire to feel validated using words on the internet.
There are lessons we learn only when we’re ready to learn. If we never understand them, they repeat. Over and over. Our learning hell.
Breaks are an excellent place to focus on whatever lessons we must learn at any stage of our lives. As creatives, it’s easy to feel that we must give up our craft and let life happen.
Of course, others use these moments of fog to create even more. I’m not one of those when the fog is there, no words. Only fog.
Or so I thought.
Now, I know better. I had the time to observe my need for validation and, more importantly, identify things that could be beneficial to creatives who need to take the break and maintain their creative muscle.
Why? Because I’ll be disappointed with my next 30 pieces. I feel my fingers fidgety and glued. My focus is sparse. My thoughts are unclear.
Writing, like every practice, requires diligence. Miss a day and pay for it.
Miss 30? Whew.
What can you do when you have to miss days? How else can you prepare for your return?
Here are some ideas.
Create something else.
Read a book.
Do something uncomfortable.
The best way to take a break from creating is to create something else.
You’ll switch your mindset to a new plane by working on something you never have. You’ll tap into the sense of starting over — a substance you need to stay close to as you make each day.
Even seasoned authors know each book is its unique creation. We must sacrifice the hubris of previous success at the altar of the Muse.
Dive into a new project when you leave the other to simmer. You’ll return with fresh eyes.
Travel the world, your city, your house. Go somewhere you’ve never been.
You’ll create new memories and encounter ideas you previously didn’t. The world, as we know it, has changed. But the effects of exposing your body and mind to a new space hasn’t.
We need community; we need others. Connect with people who don’t know you and rediscover what it’s like to rediscover.
You don’t need a plane ticket. Even walking around your house looking for something you’ve never paid attention to can provide this same experience.
I took a trip to Denver three days ago — by chance — a friend had an errand to run, and it was my day off. I had to wake up at 3 am for us to make the drive to Pueblo. I slept for most of the trip. Midway through my slumber, I woke up to see the most magnificent skyline of the rising sun. It was so beautiful; I felt ashamed to take my phone out for a picture. I looked at that beauty and slept again, soaking in the joy of nature.
It was a little 2 hour trip to and from Denver. But that image of the sun sparked an idea in me.
Reading books won’t change you, but they’ll change what you knew before.
You’ll come across people who are experienced and will teach you in 220 pages more than you’d ever learn in a lifetime.
You’re reading this thanks to the knowledge of many individuals — scientists, researchers, their communities — spouses, children, friends.
People like you and me made the vast, powerful internet. Now we can access their knowledge and the knowledge of others.
What an age we live in!
I read The Alchemist at least once a year. I was already a massive fan of Naval Ravikant. Still, after reading The Almanack of Naval Ravikant a few weeks ago, I realized how much I didn’t know ( and how much I would want to make a video review of the book on my YouTube channel).
Books are the cheat code when you don’t have a lot of experience. Taking action on that knowledge is 100X better. It’s never about how many books you read, but how many you apply to your life.
I’m sure you know people who have never read any books who live well and with wisdom. But I’m not so blessed. So I read.
Your comfort zone is a prison away from your potential. Get out.
Do something that makes you uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean you should get out of your way to make your own life miserable. You know what I mean — apologize, wake up early, stay up late, work a little harder, exercise, push your need to be comfortable.
When you do this intentionally, you’ll push your boundaries and acquire new skills or perspectives.
Writing this article makes me uncomfortable. I don’t like how my words sound or my formating, or my structure. I can’t tell you what is wrong with it, but I can tell you that I have wanted to stop multiple times.
Who will come to force me to publish? Who will be upset if I don’t?
It’s up to me. It’s up to you.
We win first when we do these things, and the rest of our communities benefit as well. The best things in life happen out at the edges.
There’s no need to waste those moments when you feel you need a break. You can still recharge and make great things. You can travel, read books, do something you know you need to do, or switch your focus to making something else.
The beauty of these things is that they don’t have to happen only when you’re on a break. I needed a reason to do these things.
I no longer need that reason. Imbibing these habits can become a way of life.
Learning. Growing. Stretching. Reaching out for more.
We have so much to offer. Every single one of us. It’s our prerogative to do the things we know we must do.
In the end, we know what we’re capable of. No matter what society or family may have done or said, you know when to turn off your alarm clock and start your day.
It’s a new day, my friend. Enjoy it! Wake up and make yourself proud.