I’m in an odd place of intentional professional procrastination. I have leads I am not quite following up on, potential workshops I am not yet selling, opportunities I am saying “thanks but no thanks” to, plans and commitments from my past self to my future self that I am now re-negotiating.
I say “odd” because, historically, I’ve ended up in this place accidentally, and for bad reasons. Grief and depression in recent years, unmanaged ADHD in prior years (well, and always the depression).
But today, presently, I’m in this place somewhat intentionally, and for good reasons. I’ve stumbled (and fought) my way into a beginner’s mind about my self again, and it feels really good. When I manage to feel free of time’s yoke, when the pressure of imagined milestones and comparisons and what I coulda woulda shoulda done with my life relents, even a little, it’s a moment I have to seize; but gently, so as not to crush it. It means letting things go, letting more things slide, and trusting that I’ll be in a better place on the other side.
I'm thinking and exploring and conversing with myself about my professional identity, about the work that I really want to do, about how I want to be understood in the world — by my peers, by my audience (such as it is), and by myself. And I’m finding that maybe I don’t really care all so much about some of the things I thought I cared about, or at least not for the reasons that I thought I did, or at least not for the reasons that I have been somewhat pretending to care about them because a guy’s gotta eat.
So I’m journaling a good bit. I’m sketching and doodling, taking lots of photos on long walks instead of doing nothing or playing Pokemon, watching stimulating documentaries instead of exclusively comfort TV, having conversations with people about themes and goals and identity. I’m reading different kinds of books, trying out different kinds of routines, trying out new words when I introduce myself. I took a free class this week about artist statements. Am I an artist? Writer? Designer? Or or or? I don’t know. I know I’m resistant to having a bio that includes the word 'multidisciplinary', because it is a large and ugly word, and it feels like cheating. But maybe it’s not far off.
Much of the work of this moment has been what I call ‘processing’ in my informal productivity system. I re-read all of my 2022 journal entries, something I don't know if I've ever done for a particular year. I’m going through my inboxes and more importantly the outboxes; deleting drafts or finishing and publishing them, finishing songs just to have them done, organizing photos, asking myself why I took all those screenshots of that particular thing and what I might want to do with them. If I were a painter, this might look like cleaning the studio; prepping new canvases, cleaning old brushes, deciding which pieces to finish and which to paint over. When I’m Doing Well, this kind of processing happens more often, more naturally. When I’m Not Doing Well, it languishes, and time collapses, and the thing I used to do all the time that helped me feel good and produce interesting work now hasn’t happened for weeks, now months, now years.
A happy side effect of all this processing is having lots of new things in the world I can share with you. Mostly it’s writing. More of it than usual is personal, even the things that are derived from my professional life.
Sick days - On fighting to be productive when you’re depressed and work for yourself.
Choose C - On what to do when despair seems like the only option.
In the pit - On how some things can’t be done halfway.
Ancient as Egypt and dumb as a baby - On a particular flavor of professional exhaustion.
Musical Scrapbook: 2021 - A playlist rescued from the depths of my end-of-year 2021 fuck-it-all-itude, finally posted now in 2023.
Musical Scrapbook: 2022 - A more recent playlist, documenting my year in music, 2022.
Seven places you can find inspiration - Speaking of languishing, I stopped 5 issues short of the 77-issue finish line I had set for myself in this old list-based writing project. I had previously decided it was permanently abandoned, but I’m too stubborn, so it’s back god damn it.
72 other issues of a newsletter you almost certainly haven’t read - I want my blog to be an archive of all my writing, so every 7x77 (spoken: seven-by-seventy-seven) is up there now. Some of them are still pretty good!
21 small thoughts on information architecture - An introduction of sorts to a discipline I've long found compelling yet intimidating, written as a sort of...tone poem? It's not a patronizing Medium primer, anyway. 😂
So, I’m doing well and having fun, mostly. Am I worried? Anxious? Having moments of doubt that I'm being stupid and wasting time and should just stick with what I know? Sure I am. But I'm not letting it get me down, you know? I've got this.
Now that said, one of my less-fun hobbies of the last few months has been watching my savings account shrink . So if you’d like to support my work and writing and professional soul-searching, you could buy me a coffee.
I’ve added a ‘gratitude’ tag to my electronic journal, and am trying to add a little something to it each day. Here’s today: “I am grateful to be having a good day, and to have slept well enough to be in a good mood, and notice it and enjoy it.”
Hope you’re well out there, friend.
Until next time,