Sustaining Your Energy & Creativity

As a highly driven and highly creative person, I work hard.

I push myself, and I put in long hours, even when I know better.

As a highly sensitive person, I have learned to set limits — I don’t work weekends and try to keep evenings to a minimum, though that has been a bit slippery lately.

Although I aim for balance, I still get more tired than I want to, especially considering all the ambitions I have (quality time with my family, traveling, finishing my script, writing a book, doing my personal spiritual work, reading more, having alone time, connecting with my husband, gardening, sewing, keeping up with the house, papers & chores, spending time with friends, cooking, learning to paint, etc.).

I’ve done some great work with organizer Miriam Ortiz y Pino on creating time blocks in my schedule and my coach Isabel Parlett has helped me focus on putting first things first and creating powerful sacred writing time in my schedule.

It’s been so helpful and amazing!

But still. I know I want to feel better about all the wonderful things I’m doing and enjoy them more.

Keeping the Creative Well Full

As I’ve gotten my brand spankin’ new Writer’s Circle going just this week, I’ve been reminded of the importance of keeping the creative channels flowing and open.

I’ve learned from Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, to aim to fill my “creative well” to overflowing, but I’ve never fully embraced the concept of artist dates, which is a primary tool for doing so along with great self-care. Though I love the idea in theory, I still find myself in a high level of resistance to seeing them through (a project for another day, perhaps).

How to Be Excellent — & Productive — At Anything

What I’ve been delighted with lately is a series of new insights I’m gleaning from Todd Henry’s new book, The Accidental Creative.

He makes a series of brilliant points that my obligation-pitfall / Life School of Service brain really needs to hear.

He quotes Tony Schwartz from his book How to Be Excellent at Anything:

The real issue is not the number of hours we sit behind a desk but the energy we bring to the work we do and the value we generate as a result. A growing body of research suggests that we’re most productive when we move between periods of high focus and intermittent rest. Instead, we live in a gray zone, constantly juggling activities but rarely fully engaging in any of them — or fully disengaging from any of them. The consequence is that we settle for a pale version of the possible.”

It’s Really All About Effectiveness, Not Efficiency

Todd Henry goes on to say:

“What Schwartz articulates so well is that even if we effectively manage our time and resources, but neglect our energy level, our effectiveness will decrease over time. Today’s success begets tomorrow’s success, so for the creative worker, when you lack the energy to generate ideas today, it takes a toll on tomorrow’s creative effectiveness. The longer the energy drain continues, the more you dig yourself into a hole.”

Ah Ha!

For my beleaguered creative brain, this is like a giant light bulb and a big “Duh” going off in my head all at the same time.

For me, not only does it remind me to call into question the truly insane work ethics of most creative and design related professions (70 hour work-weeks anyone?), it also has me asking about the sustainability of our standard work habits in a whole new way (never taking breaks, cramming as much into the day as possible, staying at your desk for hours on end, etc.)


For my Writer’s Circle, we’re working with a method of “writing sprints” or writing sessions, where we work for no more than 45 minute sessions before taking a break to do something enjoyable and/or renewing, like stretching, sitting in the sunshine, having a treat of some kind, or goofing off (consciously and deliberately) on the internet. So far so good.

The idea is to be able to do sustainable creative work in the long term.

Doesn’t that sound delicious?

Your Turn

I’d love to hear from you about this subject:

  • What thoughts does this inspire for you?
  • How do you build sustainability into your life?
  • Have you ever felt creatively burnt out? How did you recover?



Coming Attractions

~> September 6th. Beta-testing my Writer’s Circle accountability system with a select group. Stay tuned for how you can participate next month, starting October 6th.

~> November 10th. My next Life Purpose Breakthrough ‘Big Vision’ Group. Details. Only 3 spots remaining.


~> This weekend. Right Brain Business Planning with my buddy Kris Carey.

~> FRIDAYS & now morning times too. Sacred writing days. The Do Not Disturb sign is up.