Octavia Butler once wrote about “positive obsession” – something constructive you do because you just can’t stop yourself. It completely takes you over. For her it was writing, and led to a great career. But what do you do when you have more than one, and they keep wrestling with each other?
I’ve struggled with this for ages. I keep bouncing back and forth between one art and another. For a while, one takes over – and I’m driven to do nothing but. It feels great, but at the same time I neglect my other passions when I’m fully immersed in one of them. I can’t seem to find a balance.
This is why I’ve had a problem finding a career, because a professional has to focus on what pays, and keep doing it even when it’s a chore. Instead, when I’m feeling unchallenged, or over-challenged, or bored, I jump into something else entirely and get all caught up in it.
I’ve read all kinds of advice like, “Write down five things you love to do. Now figure out the one you want to do most and AVOID THE OTHERS LIKE THE PLAGUE FOREVER.” Maybe that’s the only way I’ll ever be a pro writer, if I give up all other art forms completely – but it feels like I’d be losing a richer life. I don’t want to be single-minded. I want to have hobbies as well, but it’s a little like having dessert before a fantastic feast. You fill up on the guilty pleasure and have no room for just-as-tasty food that’s good for you.
I’ve been thoroughly immersed in 3D modeling lately, to the exclusion of all other pursuits. I’ve been learning new animation techniques, and those dopamine highs are hard to resist. I haven’t been reading much and I’ve barely been writing. Writing right now is a chore. I’m forcing myself to do it – to remove myself from the 3D environment and stick my head in a page full of words (or a blank one awaiting words).
When I force myself to sit and write, I go to the couch where it’s comfortable to do it, because then it feels like a real break from the other thing. I focus on how good it feels to not be sitting in that unforgiving computer chair, because otherwise it would be hard to rip myself away from it. Even so it’s hard to focus. The thing that’s fun right now keeps calling to me.
The other night I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t stop thinking. Despite knowing how much I’d regret getting a bad sleep, I missed these idea storms. I haven’t had one in ages. Coming up with stories feels great, but it’s yet another mod idea. I’m still stuck on the novel to the point where I’m disgusted with it, and that’s the whole problem. It’s not fun right now, whereas this hobby stuff is.
I have a feeling the novel problem will only work itself out if keep myself engaged with it, but I don’t have enough headspace for that with the other project consuming me. Eventually I pull my head out of this kind of thing and go cold turkey on it for a while. That’s probably the only thing I can do, but dammit I don’t wanna. This sucks.by