When I fell ill back in the 1990s and was diagnosed with ME/CFS I thought my life would simply have to grind to a halt.
I had so little energy I couldn’t even manage the normal day-to-day things of shopping, cooking and keeping my home together. There was nothing left for a career. Add to that the misery of feeling ill ALL the time and you can imagine I wasn’t a very happy camper.
Energy gold dust
Very slowly I learnt that if I paced myself incredibly carefully I could slowly do a little more. Bit by bit I managed to claw back enough energy to start to have very small choices about what I did with it. My energy became a hugely valuable resource to me. Gold dust. I swore I would use it with care and for the things that made life worth living.
Beyond the day-to-day necessities of life my priorities were making a living and having some sort of creative outlet. The amount of energy I had to “spend” was still very limited and so the most efficient thing for me was to combine these two aims as much as possible.
Three basic rules for a sustainably creative life
Slowly, over the past decade or so, as I have built up a creative career I’ve learnt that the way to have a sustainably creative life takes three basic things:
- Working little and often (perhaps for just 20 minutes or less a day).
- Recognising what has been achieved.
It’s amazing what can be achieved
It’s amazing what can be achieved if we embrace these three things. It’s a little like making the decision to put one or two drops of dye into a bowl of water on a daily basis. If you commit to it every day, slowly, very slowly, the water will start to change colour. Imperceptibly on a day-to-day basis, but over months and years real change happens. We just need to commit, focus and notice.
Here on this blog I write regularly about ways of being sustainably creative, and over the last couple of years I have, little by little, been distilling a lot of my thoughts into book form. At the end of last year I published the first version of the book, Sustainable Creativity. It was written in little chunks of time and illustrated with drawings made as time and energy allowed. The beauty of digital publishing meant I could release it in a rather raw state with the promise to the kind readers who decided to buy it, that they would receive a more polished and updated version as my energy allowed.
Sustainable Creativity 2.0
This week I have sent out Sustainable Creativity 2.0 to everyone who bought version one. I love that I can work this way–step by step, little by little creating something. I feel very lucky.
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If you’d just like to take a peek inside you can download a sample of the book here or flick through the first few pages online.