The In-Between Times: How to Deal with Transitions and Breaks in Your Creative Routine
Photo courtesy of pluggedmind.

The In-Between Times: How to Deal with Transitions and Breaks in Your Creative Routine

Written by Emilie

Topics: Productivity

It doesn’t matter whether you are moving to a new city, switching careers, or coming out of an intense flow state before diving into another. The in-between times are the most dangerous. These are the times are when you are most vulnerable to fear and resistance creeping in, to negativity and moodiness, and to creativity being quashed.

I’ve experienced this phenomenon in many situations. On a small scale, I feel a twinge of it most days when I break during my morning work hours. On a larger scale, it always, always happens when I’m undergoing a massive change in my life and there are weeks of waiting or preparation. When I’m not quite here, but not quite there yet.

After four days of driving and countless weeks of packing and prep, I have finally arrived in Chicago– my new home. The move was relatively smooth, but I’m proud of how well I handled being away from my work rituals. In the past, moves and big life disruptions like this have been very hard on me creatively and emotionally. Not being able to work on my projects for days on end tends to make me worry and think crazy thoughts like: What if I never get to work ever again?! It’s amazing how fast we devolve when we aren’t doing the things that energize us on a regular basis.

But not this time. This time I was prepared for it.

Here are a few tips for helping you get through those in-between times, particularly when you’re changing something major in your life.

1. Set Low Expectations

Know that you won’t get much done during this time, and maybe even frame it as a sabbatical in your mind.

2. Go Easy on Yourself

As you know, I’ve just started a 15 minute writing ritual. Since starting this practice a few weeks ago, I’ve missed only one day. It was a day when we had nearly ten hours of driving to do. I hadn’t slept very well the night before, and we had to get up and start packing up the car right away. To stop and write would have slowed things down and irritated my partner. But I was too exhausted to even think about writing once we arrived at our destination, so I let it slide and got back to my writing practice the next day.

If you neglect a creative ritual, don’t chastise yourself or take it to mean something bigger than it is. Just get back on the horse as soon as you can.

3. Don’t Over-Commit

For once I didn’t take on five new projects in the weeks leading up to the move. I think multipotentialites have a tendency to get interested in new pursuits when they feel a lack of control in other areas of their life. I know that I do this. It was hard, but I fought the urge to tinker with a bunch of new passions last month. Instead I took the time to tie up loose ends and get everything to a place where I could step away comfortably.

4. Prepare

Do what you can to make your transition as smooth as possible. Ask for help wherever you can, and let other people know that you won’t be very available while you’re transitioning.

5. Remember that it’s not forever, and set a date to resume your work

Schedule a chunk of time on a day in the future that seems reasonable and won’t stress you out. I’m writing this the day after our boxes and furniture were delivered and we unpacked a little. There’s still a ton to do– buying shower curtains, setting up utilities, calling our property manager, etc. — but now that we’re somewhat settled, I can feel good about taking a few hours in the morning and getting back to my work. If you set a tentative date to resume, it will help give you something concrete to look forward to.

Your Turn

How have you dealt with major life transitions while being a multipotentialite with all of your grand multipotentialite projects?


P.S. I know that there a lot of you live in the Chicago area, and I can’t wait to meet you! I will absolutely be organizing a multipotentialite meetup once I’m settled in. I’ll send out an email with the details soon, so make sure you’re on the list. Until then, this is what I’ll be up to:


(Note: Grendel is no help when it comes to unpacking…)


  1. Austen says:

    I am taking one of those creative breaks right now. I need to set a date to resume focus. i feel that without those little breaks you can get burned out quickly. Great tips… Glad that you made it safely to Chicago, its a wonderful city. Looking forward to the meet up!

    • Emilie says:

      That’s cool, Austen. Yeah, setting a date should help a lot. I gave myself a week to settle in (meaning run around like crazy trying to get stuff done) before reaching out to Chicago peep, but you are definitely on my list! Looking forward to meeting up.

  2. Paul says:

    Hey Emilie, I believe that it’s important to actually have breaks from routine. Life is always going to give us moments which distract the focus. What I found it that I often have the best ideas when I am away from a working regime. The subconscious mind does occasionally need a bit of space to allow itself to fix the puzzles as it does when we sleep.

    I find that when I take a holiday away from the computer and working life in general I seem to flow with ideas that give me the creative direction I need at the time. I also think that as long as we do something everyday to pursue our missions regardless of how much time we have it will always support momentum and the confidence that we are doing the best with the resources with have. Nice one Emily.

    • Emilie says:

      I agree with you, Paul. I guess it’s just that sometimes breaks feel more like constant errand-running than vacations, you know? Like when you’re transitioning to a new city or job. But I agree that framing these transitions as sabbaticals in your mind can be a great way to get into “break” mode and help you generate new ideas. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Terri says:

    Yay Chicago! Hope you love it. I live in Rockford. It’s a bit of a drive, but if you have some sort of meetup I might be able to attend. :)

  4. Tom says:

    I am so worried to loose focus and motivation that I am actually thinking of skipping vacations at all, at least while I am on a creative project, maybe for 1-2 years in a row.
    And that’s a pity, because I have some great holiday proposals… :((

    For me vacations mean completely switching off, immersing myself in a different life, new friends, new activities, new places. All is so cool, no expectations, no hard feelings, no obligations, all brand new, all fun and happy. Therefore the context switch is quick and becomes so hard to switch back.
    Also the daily/weekly schedule during vacations is very different, every day is brand new, no habits, no weekdays, no weekend, every day new places to see, new experiences to do, new people to meet, food to taste.
    But if the vacation is longer than 2 weeks, it’s really really really hard to get back on track and to restart the good habits, weekly planning, prioritizing, …

    I found out that works better with 2-3-4 days vacations, because they don’t make me switch out completely, they are more like little adventures.

    Just imagine if I embark myself in a 3 months long EuroTrip (or CentralAmerica trip)… will I destroy all efforts I made during last months to train myself to good productive habits?

    So should I give up on longer vacations till I retire or so?

    (Thanks Emilie for creating PuttyLike, it makes me feel not alone in this world dominated by mono-potentialites!)

  5. Emma Sharp says:

    I know this is an old post but it’s really resonating with me right now! I’m in the process of a career change and it’s terrifying. I’ve saved a big chunk of money and have a small amount of work to ensure bills are paid, but breaking into my new career is taking longer than i thought. I am just about to ditch my last client from my old career, and for the first time in my life I won’t be freelancing or working full time. I have plenty of personal projects to fill up the space but as someone who relies on external motivation, being almost fully in charge of my time (I’m seeing this as a part time sabbatical) is so terrifying. I’m so glad to have found your blog and realise that it’s not just me that feels this way.

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