I’ve always struggled with being monogamous when it comes to my creative projects. Sometimes this comes at the cost of not finishing one project or another. (I have hundreds of unfinished stories hiding in multiple digital clouds.) And my creative projects go far beyond writing. I like to make mobile apps. I used to do a podcast. I just started making neurotic music. And if you’ve seen me loitering around Writer Unboxed, you know I also like to make YouTube videos (warning: new video incoming!).
For a long time, I elevated the writing as the one reputable activity. The others were just cute little pastimes. But recently, while struggling with chronic pain, sleep issues, and now, with all that is going on around the world (and specifically in the United States!), I’ve come to a new perspective on how I view my creative projects. All these creative projects have value. When I can, I work on whichever creative project is best suited to this moment, taking into account my state of mind, my mood, my state of health, the amount of time I’ve got—whatever feels right. It is OK to listen to the ebb and flow of whatever is ebbing and whatever is flowing.
If I want to write an essay about what’s going on in the world, great. If I want to make a song about headaches, no problem. If I want to make a video about the writing struggle, cool. If I want to write a short story about some silly thing that doesn’t even try to tackle the bigness of what is happening outside my door, there’s no shame in that either.
What’s funny about this acceptance is that I’ve been able to be more productive with this new mindset. (Not that “productivity” is the main goal here.) I feel more free, more open, less conflicted, less guilty.
I know not everyone wants to work on multiple creative projects at the same time￼. But I wonder for those of you out there who have other creative outlets, what is your relationship to these outlets? Do you consider one outlet more important than another?
Oh. Yeah. I almost forgot about the video I made about this whole subject. I think it characterizes my perspective better than these words—a video felt like a more natural way for me to tell this story. So here it is:
I made this video before the brutal murder of George Floyd and the protests, but as I write this post, I’ve started to realize how much more I need to understand and engage with what is going on around racism. I’m familiar with bigotry against Jews, but I have a lot to learn about racism against Blacks. I know that there are so many places to start, but I’ve started by reading some books by Ibram X. Kendi (both on my own and with my family). I’m also donating both time and money to organizations that fight racism, and I’m writing letters to local leaders who can make changes. I know this video and blog post are not about racism, but I still wanted to share my clumsy-but-sincere efforts to learn and engage.