Early Warning System
There’s a very real withdrawal process after you finish a creative project. It’s like coming down after a six month high, and the gravity of the experience is commensurate with the level of ambition you put in the work. And so, the more time and energy and money you invested, the weightier that withdrawal becomes. It’s a psychological fallout. You stand in the void between projects, feeling anxious and empty and idle and a little paranoid, wondering what the heck you’re going to create next. You realize, oh crap, now that you’ve shipped, there’s a huge hole in your creative life, and you don’t know how to fill it. And if you don’t plug up that hole soon, it’s bad times for all. Blech.
EARLY WARNING SYSTEM — A personal seismograph that helps us take preemptive action against impending inner turmoil and anxiety
Loneliness is a permanent feature of the human experience, and we all have to learn how to deal with it. Especially if we work out of home or alone in our creative work. Your early warning system is what you use for detecting the tremors. Almost like a social seismograph, your body learns to identify the vibrations of approaching loneliness. That way, you can do things to overwhelm it with of feelings of connection and belonging before your social mechanism freaks out.
I’ve gone through that withdrawal dozens of times over the years, and it never gets an easier. That space in between obsessions, where the smell of meaninglessness quietly creeps in like a slow gas leak, sometimes I feel like I want to jump out of my skin. But I don’t. Because I remember that things don’t need to be fixed, they need to be understood. And so, I sit with the feelings. As long as I have to. Sometimes I even start a conversation with them in my mind, asking what brings them to town.
You can't always control anxiety in the creative process, but you can see it coming and making preparations accordingly. Accept and appreciate the turmoil of genuine process. Listen to your body and you'll know what steps to take to overcome loneliness and get back to work. What’s your early warning system for impending inner turmoil and anxiety?
Productively manage your emotional landscape Productively manage your emotional landscape
Overcome the pain of creative withdrawal after large projects finish
Overwhelm feelings of loneliness before your social mechanism freaks out
Ensure psychological safety in the face of the everyday challenges artists face