Workaholic or Blocked Creative?

by Barbara Martin

in Creativity at Work

Are you guilty of work abuse? In Week 10 of The Artist’s Way creativity program, Julia Cameron asks us to consider whether we might be workaholics. While forward progress requires steady work, there is an emotional difference between that and being a work addict.

Addicted to Work or Just Busy?

There is a difference between working productively and being on the workaholic treadmill where you are busy doing things and putting in the hours yet not making progress toward your goal. There is a busy-ness factor to being a workaholic where you are not spending quality time with your project. Instead, you are putting in hour after hour, caught up in what could be termed a process addiction. (Earlier we discussed how creative people tend to suffer a variety of addictions, including an addiction to being blocked.)

How Do You Spend Your Working Hours?

Whether you call it drawing a line, setting boundaries, or simply becoming aware of how you are spending your working time, it pays to keep track of how you spend your time so you can notice any leanings toward workholism.

Once you are aware of what you are doing with your time, then you can decide if your time is being spent well, being spent productively, or simply being spent. If you find you are spending an inordinate amount of time on activities that are not related to making that step by step progress toward your goals, then maybe you need to draw a line for yourself.

Not sure? Keep a log of how you spend your time every day. It can be shocking how much time is spent avoiding rather than doing! Once you know for a fact how you are spending your time, you will immediately see where the workaholic kicks into gear for you and you will recognize the unproductive activity.

Identifying the specific workaholic behavior is half the battle to redirecting your time. The other half of the battle is deciding what to do with that time you have been unproductively using for “work” – could you use it to actively work on your creativity, take an Artist Date, play with your children, enrich your daily life? What else could you do with those hours every day, including maybe some precious free time, unscheduled, empty down-time to “do nothing” at all?

Work or Hidden Creative Block?

If you are addicted to workaholism you undoubtedly resent all the work you are putting in, and you will always be looking ahead to the day when your work is done — But of course you will never finish! By struggling with the endless chores of doing work, your creativity is solidly blocked. Your endless working, working, working, is protecting you from something, allowing you to avoid your own thoughts, or avoid your family or other relationships, or avoid reaching a creative goal…

According to Julia Cameron, being a workaholic means you are making yourself too busy on purpose, so busy that you can’t hear your creative urges, or if you do hear that faint creative voice, you are too busy to act on it. So you stay blocked, and anxious, and quote unquote safe.

Get off the Workaholic Treadmill

Do you recognize yourself here? Are you somehow trying to protect yourself from your creativity by staying too busy working? If so, Julia Cameron recommends posting a sign at your work place:

“WORKAHOLISM IS A BLOCK, NOT A BUILDING BLOCK.”

MORE posts in the Reptitude Artist’s Way Series

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{ 1 comment }

Goddess Leonie | Creative Goddess April 6, 2009 at 6:06 pm

You have such a beautiful, powerful presence with your words, Barbara. Thank you, that was like being carried along by a boat on a gentle river.

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