Working from home is tough. And this is coming from a homeschooler, who is long since used to the discipline of showing up and applying myself to the work in front of me for hours on end. Getting used to it can be difficult, but repeated efforts make a routine automatic. Alas, there is a catch to this discipline. What of the days when I show up, and my brain refuses to engage? Staring at the page might count, but on days like this I can’t even summon the willpower to do that. I’m brain-dead.
Straightforward tasks are one thing. If I know exactly how to start, how to proceed, and when I am finished, I can muddle through brain-dead days. Creative efforts, though, require my brain to agree with my discipline.
Come on, pencil, paper, action!
Nope, still brain-dead.
The next step in such a situation is to pull out the bag of tricks, which in my case is music, inspirational YouTube videos, and possibly breakfast. Actually eating something, or pretending to, really does solve half of my sluggish days. As do short naps. Too bad today falls on the other half of brain-dead, or I could write about healthy eating and getting enough sleep.
Music is hit-and-miss with me. It helps me focus and provides some motivation, but if sluggish has won the day music is either distracting or downright annoying.
I use YouTube a lot for research, for focus, and for fun. Watching a relevant video, or an entire playlist of them, helps me better picture what I’m trying to do on paper. Then there’s gems like this one from Nevercake.
Nevercake gives great advice on getting started on any creative project. I especially liked his advice to start small. Very small. I struggle with that. When starting out with something new, I tend to make my goals way to big. Even the “small” ones. However, today I’d be happy just to get something on paper. Maybe I could call that a breakthrough and label this brain-dead day a success.
Watching that video again might help my brain get motivated… if I manage to click on it. Confession: today YouTube is threatening to fall more on the fun side than the focus side. I’d better click out of YouTube before I start wondering where the day went.
Yeah, an hour later and I’m still brain-dead. So, at this point, do I give up? Do I resign myself to being bored and unprofitable for the rest of the day?
If I could just trick myself into being productive, motivated… but willpower alone isn’t enough to put words on paper. My brain is like a car without gas. I can try to start it up all I want, but, until I find a way to put gas into it, my dead brain isn’t going anywhere. Literally and figuratively.
Still, I know I have the words in me, and as long as I keep showing up my creativity will come out in time. So for today perhaps I’ll compromise on “giving up”–watch Studio C on YouTube and keep my pencil and paper out.
Wait, how long is this post now? How do you deal with your brain-dead days? Comment below; you probably have better ideas than I did. If you just need a little nudge to get started on your creative endeavor, try out this video from Nevercake. If nothing else, his narrative voice is fun to listen to.