My ADD-infused creative process is something I’ve struggled to accept. Too many times I’ve tried to control it in a way that ended up burning me out. Late nights of “work” that accomplished nothing. Hours forcing my brain to follow the path I decided it needed to, only to discover it was the wrong one. There’s a fine line between allowing your brain to avoid work and an intellectual death march. I usually can’t tell which side I’m on.
Since my job at Vanilla ended in February, I’ve had a glut of free time. I mostly tried something new: not stressing about any one particular thing. I’ve had a few projects besides my leisure and job seeking: two web apps I’ve been noodling over, a small 3-week side gig assembling electronics, and plenty of long-delayed housework to catch up on. With only a week left until my new job begins, I’ve begun tidying my office and virtual desktop for a new day-to-day pattern.
The web apps I’ve decided to pursue couldn’t be more different, which is why I haven’t hesitated to work on both. One is something low-stakes and very nerdy; something I can dig into immediately and code some stuff for without worrying about its long-term consequences. The other is more of a philosophical needle to thread; an intractable problem of slightly daunting scale. It’ll probably take a year just to get to a partial prototype, if I stick with it that long. Starting to code on it now would be an epic mistake; it needs a good bit of prose written first.
On any particular day, I just sort of float between whichever thing feels like it wants to engage my brain. When it does, I’ll work on it for hours. If it doesn’t… I don’t. I know that may read like some hippy-dippy nonsense, but it’s taken some real effort to relax enough to do that. My brain wants to guilt me into old patterns, and I repeatedly decline.
Yesterday, I was cleaning up my digital files that I’ve been sprinkling around, like a trail of litter from various ideas. And I realized it was time to do something auspicious: Make two new folders on my desktop, one for each project. For years, I’d had folders on my desktop for Vanilla, Icrontic, and whatever my other current projects were. It’s an old habit to collect things in a single neat column of folders there. I wiped my desktop clean in February and resolved to keep it that way, filing things away neatly in my Dropbox instead. And yet here I was already staking out new real estate, turning the proverbial page and making the ideas that have been percolating in my brain for years a little more concrete.
That’s one old pattern I can live with.