I Dread Downtime

In music school, I learned about the creative plateau. It’s when the muse stops speaking to an artist for a period of time. In the writing world, it’s akin to writer’s block. In the world of software and web development, jeez, I dunno what it’s called. But it afflicts me from time to time and it’s a familiar feeling to what I experienced as a composer. I get to a point where I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know how I got here or why I’m here to begin with. I’m lost.

I’m generally a productive person at work. I gotta be. I consider my job to be creating something from nothing. I’m constantly scrounging up work because someone who creates something from nothing isn’t being dictated to. I’m good at occupying myself. But when the ‘stream of next’ dries up, I panic. It’s the feeling of looking down from the hi-wire and seeing my fate below. What now!

Inevitably a couple of days later the path appears again, as though it was always there and I hum along again.

Why do I fear this downtime? I guess because it makes me feel like I’m meandering and, for some reason, that’s counterintuitive.

Inevitably, each time I happen back upon productivity, I think “Hmmm, that was kinda nice. I accomplished nothing and now there’s so much to do again and I’m ready for it.”

Every writer needs the threat of extinction. Every musician needs to walk the flats to the next ascent. Every person judged on their productivity needs to suffer downtime. It forces space upon us to reflect and make adjustments. For me, I think it’d help to welcome it, though, instead of casting about in gloom while it passes. I’ll consider that next time I’m kicking the can.