Last week I went for a walk around Kenoza Lake in Haverhill. I prefer the trail close to the college. It glides uphill, through a pine forest, and then down rocky train, and past the lake in a nice loop that usually takes less than an hour. I’d been thinking about writing and exercise, and how these are the first activities I lose when life starts getting busy. Work comes first; my boyfriend; food, and finally, if there’s any time left over, I might fit in a walk or some journaling, but not usually.
As I rounded the hill and walked through the flat part of the path that gets muddy during rainstorms, I tried to figure out why I didn’t want to write anymore, and why I was walking so little. T.V. has a lot to do with it—mindless entertainment that makes me feel guilty but is difficult to pull away from, especially late at night—but the other thing was this: I am sick to death of marketing.
I haven’t done marketing in months, or even planned for it, but here the tasks sit, uncompleted, in my list of things To Do: “Revise Letter of Introduction and send to REI.” “Attend Friday Networking night.” “E-mail another textbook editor.” “Revise the About section of my website.”
The tasks aren’t difficult or even laborious. But they have me frozen. I’m burnt out.
When burnt out, you can’t keep going back to the thing you’ve been doing, because it doesn’t work anymore. I stepped back. What did I used to love about writing? I asked myself. Creating characters, describing places, inventing plot. But mostly just not writing marketing materials. So if I didn’t have to market or worry about business, what would I do? I want to get better at describing people, places, and things. I want to get back into writing fiction. I want to get back to consistent journaling. So here I am, journaling for my readers.
Don’t get lost. When you feel stuck, pivot, always pivot, even if you need to move away from the very task you were trying to accomplish. Try something new. Remind yourself why you wanted the thing in the first place, and if you find that you no longer want it—whatever it is–money for art, art for art’s sake, a job doing what you love—then take a break and see how you feel after awhile. Maybe the desire will return. Maybe it won’t. But why keep trying to achieve something you no longer want?
I’m returning to writing and hiking. What will you go back to?