A Post-Pandemic Reboot
To say it’s been a while since I wrote an official blog post – or did a lot of things, really – is an understatement. It feels more like twenty years has passed than just two!
I had slowed down my productivity towards the end of 2019 as the due date for my daughter approached. She arrived fashionably late (as is typical for first-borns hoping to bypass any "my parents offered me in exchange for something" contracts). Life has been a whirlwind since! Just when I was looking forward to getting back to work, the pandemic hit, and I never did make it to the new office. Still haven't as the time of this post!
I'll be honest. Even just thinking of doing things for myself felt impossible for nearly a year. Without daycare and family nearby, my husband and I spent most days trying to survive taking care and entertaining our little one while also being productive employees. Adding worry for a global pandemic atop of first-time parent anxiety really took a toll. It was, to put it mildly, exhausting.
We were finally able to start daycare a few months back, and then she was sick near constantly. (Which meant, of course, we were too since kids can't help but put their hands and mouths everywhere.) Things have improved on that front, so I finally – finally! – feel a little less burned out. Not entirely. At times I feel it will take a long time to recover from the mental and physical fatigue that loomed over us so long. But, at the very least, I'm feeling less of a survivalist and more of myself again.
So now what?
I've had time to think lately. A recent writing class I took also gave me clarity. And the overall conclusion I came to…is that it's time for me to slow down.
But Laura, you've barely produced anything creative in over a year! How could you possibly slow down?!
A great question! I mostly mean in terms of my pre-pandemic-baby productivity.
Back then, I drew a comic every day and I stayed up late when I wanted to do other things.
Now? Well, staying up late is off the table until my kid learns about the concept of sleeping in. It's non-negotiable. That means I have less wiggle room and my time is further limited, especially on weekends.
But beyond that, or perhaps because of it, having to produce something every single day no longer feels… necessary. I started my dailies to help my depression. It helped, and my mental health has overall been much better for years. While they are still fun to do, I don't feel as committed to the concept of doing them every single day anymore. I will draw them again, but less often.
My daily comic strips were a commitment, and I'm ready to divert some of that energy somewhere else.
First: Always leave time for me
Having "me time" wasn't something I had to consciously think about before. Now I do! I truly understand now how valuable it is for me to have solitary time to myself when I can relax, whether that means reading a book or playing a game. This is especially why I want to "slow down". Goal 1: I need to always come first.
I'm not creative or productive when I'm miserable. It's that simple.
Second: Going all-in on writing
I've decided to focus on my writing before I return to building back drawing habits. I already had stopped doing commissions because I prefer doing my own work, and most of my personal work was based off the tales I was writing. So it makes sense to get the stories done first!
One class assignment especially helped me solidify why I write and what I want my writing to do. As a result, I realized why one old draft had me stuck despite having a completed outline. It wasn't hitting those boxes of why I write! So I ended up completely tossing out the draft, outline, and notes. I kept the two main characters and completely rewrote the plot. Of course, now I have to rewrite it and no longer have an outline – but it's worth it. Already, I feel better about the direction. (By the way – my writing page is reflected with the new version!)
I didn't have a good consistent habit for writing at the best of times before, and I definitely don't now. To finish any of my projects, I need to.
So goal 2: build a writing habit.
This will take time. First, to determine who word count goals feel achievable for me. (Historically I tend to be overly optimistic and then flounder before giving up in shame.) Then when is the best time for me to write. Lastly: to prove I can show up again. And again.
Third: Back to drawing
Since I used to have a drawing habit, I am hoping this will be easier to bounce back with. (Surely it's like muscle memory, right?)
But this is goal 3: return to drawing regularly. While my writing goals are more specific to finishing projects, here it doesn't matter as much. It can be a daily, a sketch, or a finished piece. Whatever I'm in the mood for.
Once I have the writing habit, I will repeat with drawing. My old time that I drew was too late at night to do now (alas, good-bye my night owl days!), which means I need to discover a new one that doesn't interfere with my writing habit or other commitments.
See you soon!
Building habits takes time. The good news is I feel solid about my first goal. It was the first thing I prioritized as we started to get a light at the end of the tunnel. This means we're currently on the second goal. I have a word count goal that feels reliably achievable (and delightfully or pitifully small – your pick). The time to write? Still working on that. Turns out I'm not meant to be a lunch break writer.
All of this is a long way to say that though I've been quiet in most of my online spaces, I'm back to work.
And you'll see more of me very soon! ❤️