Advice for creatives no. 5 | Do the work that gives you energy
Do the work that gives you open energy.
This blog post by Keri Smith is one of my favorite advice letters I've ever read, so much that I feel like I need to print it out and reread it when I'm feeling discouraged.
She writes about the paralyzing effect of the pressure we put on ourselves for creative work, the importance of paying attention to the energy we feel when we do things. Do more of what gives you an open sense of energy, and less of what doesn't. It's that simple.
I think often about this idea of the emotional thermometer, and how it not only applies to creative projects and work, but also to friendships, relationships, and day to day activities. Does checking Instagram or Facebook give me an open sense of energy? Doing yoga? Going on walks? Binge watching Netflix? (Eventually, I'd like to diagram out the types of energy different activities give me... but more on this later).
From Keri's blog:
"So what I really want to share with you is this…the energy that you feel when you are creating is very important and will tell you if you are on the right path. Not that there is only one path, there are many, but I am referring to doing work that fulfills you and brings you “success”, and when I say success I really mean “work that is meaningful to you”, work that is aligned with your ideals. What do I mean by “energy” you might be asking? How do you feel when you are working, when you take on certain jobs? How does your body feel? I will refrain here from using words like “good” and “bad” as there are inherently judgmental, instead preferring “open” and “closed”.
Open energy: light, energized, ecstatic, inquisitive, curious, want to stay up all night, go for a run, feel like you can conquer the universe, tuned in, radiating, etc.
Closed energy: tired, small, sick to your stomach, tight, passive, unengaged, unmotivated, discouraged, overwhelmed, frustrated, fearful, uninspired, etc.
The difference might also be illustrated by thinking of how you would feel after having lunch with someone who you love to spend time with, someone who makes you feel excited and energized, contrasted with how you might feel if you watched TV for 12 hours straight while eating junk food. So the goal is to try to do as much work as you can that has the open energy attached to it. This is the source for all your best work."