When I first came across the idea of 'refilling your well' I didn't really understand it. I stared at it for a while just thinking 'what does that even mean?' In the world of 'I'll sleep when I'm dead' the idea of stopping and taking a moment to refill is almost a foreign concept to a lot of people. The busy, busy, busy attitude is everywhere and it's so easy to get sucked in and suddenly feel like something is wrong with you if you sleep for more than 6 hours a night.
Getting caught up in that frantic attempt to keep up with the rest of the world can be daunting. And now with social media, it's easy to see when that friend posts at 3am about how many projects they're working on and how hard they're working to make it happen. You feel like the slacker. But you're not. And your friend isn't a jerk either.
Working hard is a part of life and to get some places you do have to work hard. But the idea that you must consistently be destroying yourself with how many things you're doing irritates the hell out of me. For many people this work constantly thing is a necessity to survive. The people who work three jobs and sleep in their cars between shifts have no choice but to go, go, go. (And the problems with that being forced for people to survive is a whole nother thing entirely.)
With creative work, getting caught up in the current of work, work, work, work non-stop can take you far or it can, like it did for me, lead to drowning and a collapse of work for months. To mix my fire and water metaphors, I burned my candle from both ends and caught the whole house on fire.
Now I'm rebuilding from the charred remains of trying to be everything and do everything. The things that refill you, that bring you joy, that make creating not just a 'have to' but a 'want to' are vital to life. While writing and creating absolutely count as work and there will be days when it's hard and you don't want to do the work, creating also has an element of joy to it. Few people write because they hate it. They write because the stories in their soul are fighting their way out. When those stories go silent because you've burned down their home then you have a problem.
For me, the things that refill my well are:
1. Time with friends and family, laughing and eating good food
2. Conventions with conversations with my creative family
3. Ice skating
4. Quiet nights soaking in the bath and interacting with no one
5. Playing a game and screaming every obscenity I can think of
It's not an exhaustive list, and it's constantly changing and evolving with me as a person. Ice skating wasn't on that list until I hopped on the ice at a work function and fell in love with it. Gliding on the ice brings me a stillness and a peaceful joy I haven't felt anywhere else. But taking the time for things like that feels selfish and wasteful. I should be writing not wasting time at this game or in this conversation. For years I didn't play video games, one thing I deeply love, because I 'didn't have the time to waste' on them.
Everyone has a well of energy in them, creativity, passion and adventure. You can draw and draw from that well and when it runs empty, you can dig further down and pull that last bit out. It might feel like it can last forever, the infinite well of possibility, but if you don't take the time to let that well refill, you will hit a solid stone bottom and find yourself in the bottom of a very deep, dark pit.
I dug into the very bottom of my well and found nothing there, and now I'm crawling out of the hole I built and slowly letting the water of energy come seeping back in. I'm making time to do the things I enjoy, to visit shops I love, to laugh with friends, to play DnD and make ridiculously bad rolls in battle. I'm remembering that I am made up of more than my work. Busy is not something I strive to be every single moment of my life. It's not an easy, one stop fix, but it is something to remember. Are you taking the time to let yourself recharge or are you digging straight into a burn out?
Make a list and try to just do one of those things today. I bet you'll feel oodles better.