Body Says No
Sometimes you just have to listen to your mind and your body, and give them what they need, before they hit you over the head with a frying pan and take those things forcibly.
Do you know what I’m talking about? Well, you’re about to, because I’ll explain!
At the start of this year I launched an ambitious new video project called The Grand Plan. The aim was to begin building an audience on YouTube again after a near decade of sporadic uploads and scant engagement. A noble aim, you might think, but it became apparent very quickly that I wasn’t in the right headspace to focus so hard on video production.
I managed to get to the third instalment of my planned 20 videos before hitting the first road blocks, so I decided to take a break by… working. Yes, just working on audio rather than video. Unsurprisingly, I was still feeling tired and unable to complete things, so I decided to take all of May off. Yes, that should work! Then I can do a 30-day audio challenge and get back on track!
The challenge lasted nine days.
And then I crashed. Mentally and physically, as well as having a load of high stress life events happing the same week, which included my daughter’s classroom being closed due to three COVID cases. I basically had no time to record, and no mental energy to do production work in the evenings.
You know what I should have done? I should have listened to myself two months prior instead of pushing myself and limping along. Maybe I’ve actually learned my lesson this time…
Doing Nothing Deliberately
Since then I’ve decided to do nothing, with intentionality. I have carved out time deliberately for a whole host of ways I can ‘do nothing.’ I have taken up hobbies again, and then dropped them when I felt like it. I have felt inspired to write lists, and then put those lists away without feeling I’ve made some kind of moral failing by not checking everything off. I have spent time with people outside my household. I have binged anime. I have watched obscure YouTube videos. I have NAPPED.
This week I had some time off while my daughter was away visiting relatives. I made a list of things to achieve, like I normally would, but this time I decided to stop caring about the possible results, and only do things if it took my fancy. I wrote out 14 possible tasks.
Guess how many tasks I did?
None? No. I did seven. Half of my task list, while keeping up with household chores like hoovering and hand washing delicates. You mean to tell me I can do half of my work load without even especially pushing myself?! Have I been banging my head against the wall all this time just to find out that being deliberately lazy was what I needed all along?
This is madness. This is ground-breaking. I am, as the kids say, SHOOK.
Old Beige Tights
As you might have heard by now after following me a little while, I have a chronic mental health condition. I have struggled with depression on and off since the age of 17, but after having my daughter that diagnosis was bumped up to ‘bipolar’ since I can sometimes experience mania also. I have had to learn the hard way, multiple times, that the only way I can have such a condition and do work is to flow with it rather than fight against it.
I have some weeks where I’m utterly unstoppable. But in order to have those weeks, I have to have even more time where I’m literally just lying there thinking about how I’m going to achieve all those things. Now I’m working out what it will take to build a business from my music, I aim to make that mental ebb and flow a built-in feature, to create a career that won’t be affected by my illness because it will already have capacity to flex around it.
I feel very wise. But also a bit like I’m going against what’s ‘normal’ for employment. I know I need to do it this way, though, because if I don’t I’ll just end up back at square one a year or so after getting a full-time job in an office somewhere.
I knew I was ready for this new mindset when I was clearing out my clothing a few weeks back. I took a deep breath and got rid of all my white shirts that I had planned to wear ‘one day’ when I was working again. I also passed on my formal trousers (apart from the grey pair, they’re comfy as heck and make my butt look good!) and threw out all those old pairs of beige tights. I want to be able to walk into my place of work one day looking like a rock star, because I will be one. And instead of an office I’ll be walking into the studio, or being a delightfully disruptive presence in the board meeting.
The Grand Plan Continues..?
In light of everything I’ve said here, I do want to clarify that I will be working on my creative projects still, but I’ll be doing it mostly in secret. I’ve already announced on my Instagram that I’m essentially taking the rest of the year off, although I might occasionally drop a little something here and there.
Regarding videos specifically, I’ve realised I’ve really outgrown my geriatric Mac and its copy of iMovie that I’ve been using all this time. I need something a little more powerful, on a machine that doesn’t take a minute to load each change I make. I’ve been looking around online for software I can use on my much more up-to-date PC, and I think I’ve found something suitable. I’m currently researching ways I can get the most bang for my buck (or punch from my pound..?).
Another issue that’s been stalling my video projects is that I’m pretty restricted in where I can film which makes for a limited variety for shots and angles. This leads me to taking things a bit further and working with a photographer or team of people at some point in the near future. I have touched on this in the past with my desire to work with Lucky 1s Media, so perhaps when the world is a little less on fire, I can achieve that goal.
In the meantime, I do have a few things I can film in my humble abode. But then I have the problem of not knowing what to say, or what to shoot. For almost all of my YouTube ‘career’ I have gone into videos generally unscripted. I’d make a few bullet points, ramble, and then edit furiously. However, many of my video ideas would benefit a lot from voiceovers, meaning it’s better to script first, film the shots, edit it, then record myself talking over that. Then editing once again until it’s all beautifully paced and presented.
I’d also like to explore short form video more such as Instagram’s ‘reels’. Sometimes I want to use particular sounds or shots that I couldn’t do just with my phone camera in selfie mode and someone else’s meme noise. Although, I do like other people’s meme noises a lot too…
Instead of gradually releasing my videos as I go like I may have intended to, I think it would be fun to finish lots of stuff, and then just drop a load of it over the course of a week some time in the future. I’m gonna call it my ‘content bank’, and then when I’m ready to re-emerge, I can sing, “Look, I made you some content!” and dump the whole thing in your lap before running away, laughing maniacally.
I quite enjoyed writing this entry, so perhaps my blog is a good place to keep people updated while I’m generally silent on other platforms.
If you want to keep up with what I’m doing, please follow me on Instagram and I’ll be sure to announce if I’ve written anything new on here.
Until then, look after yourselves and listen to your body!