One of the strangest parts of being a full-time creative, is shaking the old rhythms off and embracing energy in its natural flow.

For the years I’ve been working a forty for someone else, I’ve tried to wrap my creative efforts and writing around someone else’s schedule. That meant if I was in a great writing groove late in the evening, and ten thirty rolled around, I’d start to get irritable, worried that I’d need to get some sleep before being at work the next day. The tension would build, I didn’t want to give up my chapter momentum, but I also didn’t want to try and make it through a shift on three hours of sleep every time.

I’d strain, and stress, and finally cut my chapter short, then lay in bed being pissed about it, and potentially crabby the next day at work.

Now I get to follow the rhythm where it goes. Minor interruptions and needs still surface. Schedules still need to happen, but the tempo is more natural which allows more creative flow and more satisfaction in the creative process. If I’m in a groove, I keep going until the chapter is done, even if that’s two or three in the morning.

Because I don’t have an income from creative works yet, I also wobble on the “what’s worth the time” issue. Being self-sustainable is the ultimate goal, but that means putting time and energy into things that will ultimately have a return. This isn’t always easy to gauge.

Sometimes, I struggle with WHAT to put my energy into so I have longevity in the efforts. How do I know what will pay off and what will support me? For now, I’m leaning heavily on Patrons to keep me in a space of creative freedom, but the ultimate goal is to be under the drive of my own creative income.

The other day I was writing by the creek. I had a fire in the pit nearby where I was frying blue cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon. I had a glass of wine while I was puzzling out a pivotal chapter in Scold of Jays. It was lovely…too lovely. And then I started feeling guilty. I started putting my notebook down and thinking, “I should be doing something more. This feels too unprofessional.” Then out of nowhere, I wondered, “I feel like I’m going to get written up for this?”

Written up? Seriously, Athena? You’re expecting a corporate punishment for your own brand of productivity? Because you’re having fun AND getting your word count in?

But it’s true. I still don’t have my psychological autonomy in my creative rhythms yet. I still don’t trust that I can be productive, profitable, and do it in a way that’s fun and fulfilling. I’ll get to that belief, but apparently it will take more time.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep following the current and see where the productivity takes me. I’ll keep testing the rhythms that create output, and keep my fingers crossed that output will be sustainable.

As these things pop up it raises new questions and old blockages that need to be worked through. I’ll figure it out. I’m happy to figure it out. For all the world, it’s a great problem to be having, the discovery of being self-propelled, and doing what I love. The balance will come. Until then, there’s bacon wrapped dates and wine, and reckless writing abandon.