In sport you have players that are called ‘streaky’. That doesn’t mean they’re tall, it means they go on short-to-medium periods of extreme proficiency. If they start scoring, they’ll keep doing it for a few weeks and then go fallow. I’d imagine there have been doctorates written in sport psychology about those people versus the more consistent variety.
The same kind of psychology applies in a creative career. I think I am streaky (I’m also relatively tall). I don’t mean in terms of getting jobs - doing that on a consistent basis is less about creative bursts and more about reputation & professionalism-building over the course of years. I mean in terms of the creative energy itself.
I would describe my brain as ‘sparky’. Like a broken circuit, it fires and buzzes intermittently. When it sparks, I get a surge of energy. I write pages of notes on a new book, or I send loads of emails to various unsuspecting people, both friends and strangers. I create a batch of drawings that hint at a huge future project. I start a new business, brand it up (I like branding my own things) and reach out to lots of new people in the given industry and relish all these new contacts that are going to hand me the golden keys to some dream future. I have been like this for most of my 40 years, and I’ve come to accept it. It’s gotten me this far.
There is a downside to this Sparky Streakiness©️®️™️. When the buzz builds and my pistons are firing and I’m all go-go-go, small things can cut the power off. One little bit of negativity - however innocuous - can completely kill the buzz. It’s ridiculous, and I’m always aware of its ridiculousness. But it has always happened to me, and I’ve always been derailed by things which should have zero affect. Countless unfinished projects attest to this.
However, now I am old (well, not really) and wise (nope) I can see this problem for what it is, and forewarned is forearmed. And now when this happens I remind myself of one thing - it’s all good and it doesn’t matter. The project being unfinished doesn’t matter - it’s a building block to something else or at least something you might come back to. The pointless contact doesn’t matter because you never know when that person might crop up again. Everything I do in my streaks is worth doing. It all leads to now, and now is good.
So I’m writing this post for anyone out there who suffers from Creative Bursts vs Burst Bubbles. If your buzz is cut short by some slight knock, don’t worry about it. The buzz happened in the first place, and that’s where the magic is.
When you’re on a streak, relish it. Ride the wave. Then fall off and wait for the next one.
Keep it lit 🔥 😎