It has been a wild past few years for everyone in general, and in specific for me. Lately I’ve felt like I’ve been waking up after a really long nap–the kind where you slept so deeply that you have no idea how long you’ve been out. That’s what happens when you learn the connection between crazymakers and energy pennies.

A desk covered with loks markers, pencils, washi tape, a notebook, and a glue bottle with the text "Crazymakers and Energy Pennies"

Something you probably already know is that you only have so much energy. Sometimes that energy has to go to life stuff, like buying groceries and cleaning the house. Sometimes, that energy gets to go to writing or creating something cool.

But what happens when you realize you’re spending all your energy on things that don’t matter? What happens when those things are constantly throwing a wrench in the gears?

That’s when you have to look at your energy budget, and cut out the things and people that are making you crazy.

What is a Crazymaker?

Before we define crazymaker, remember you’re not responsible for other people’s happiness. Even if the crazymaker acts like you are.

In The Artist’s Way, Crazymakers are the people who block your creativity. In my experience, they don’t do it intentionally. Rather, they’re just a giant distraction, and sometimes, as a creative person, you might want that.

Julia Cameron gives a pretty harsh crazymakers meaning in her book. She describes them as the people who keep you from completing your projects or going after your big ideas. They can be anyone–a friend, spouse, child, coworker–and they’re experts at creating constant drama. Maybe it’s through gossip or making you doubt yourself. It could be by asking for money.

Some of the crazymaking examples Julia Cameron gives are:

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And when you have crazymakers in relationships, it can be disastrous for your art because those crazymakers will take all your time and energy and attention, and focus it on their goal. We stay in relationships with crazymakers because they are providing a distraction to us. Usually, we’re creatively blocked and the crazymaker can reinforce that block. They can keep us from going after that big, scary dream because they reinforce all the doubts we have about ourselves.

Basically, crazymakers suck.

And if you aren’t careful, crazymakers can steal all your energy pennies.

What’s an Energy Penny?

No, I’m not talking about penny stocks for energy companies. Though, that’s probably the first thing that comes up when you search. The energy pennies we’ll be talking about are metaphors.

Writer and coach Becca Syme coined the term energy penny. It’s her way of explaining how much creative energy you have as a writer. Some things give you energy pennies to spend on your project. Some things drain your energy pennies.

Two things Becca talks about often are writer burnout and energy pennies. I took two of her courses last year after hearing her speak at the Oklahoma Writers Federation yearly conference and I’m really glad I did.

I had been stuck in such a weird place creatively, and there were a few personal life things that pretty much made it impossible for me to write. Also, I was freelancing my butt off and kind of felt like my brain was mush.

Part of what really helped me overcome burnout was understanding energy penny drains and saves, Some things drain your energy. Some things help you build up that energy.

But until I took Becca’s course on writer burnout, I hadn’t really examined all the ways my daily life was draining me. But once I figured it out, it’s been so easy to cut out people or activities that take too much and replace them with things that make me feel more energized and creative.

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How Do Crazymakers and Energy Pennies Interact?

Every writer I talk to always wishes they had more time and energy. Hell, I wish this regularly.

But I also know that the only way to get work done is to slowly chip away at my goals. Maybe I get 3,000 words written one day. The next day I may not be able to write at all.

My energy penny budget usually determines how much I can write. And if I have a crazymaker in my life, my budget dwindles so much faster than normal.

It took me so long to realize that connection between crazymakers and energy pennies, by the way.

For years, I wondered why I couldn’t write more or why I wasn’t putting out more fiction. Turns out, it’s hard to know if you have a crazymaker when they’ve been around for a while.

(I touched on this a little in this happy 38th birthday to me post.)

And admittedly, once the crazymaker was gone, I felt off. Like I needed them back or like I needed to fill the void they left. It’s wild how attached I was to being creatively blocked.

But now, I’m feeling more like my old self and my output is starting to match what I used to write before that crazymaker entered my life 17 years ago.

How to Avoid Crazymakers That Steal Your Energy Pennies

So, maybe you have a crazymaker and you aren’t sure what to do about that. I recommend addressing the issue head on. I wish I had done that, and maybe it would’ve been fixed so much sooner.

But it’s worth noting that your crazymaker may not respect you addressing the issue. That’s when I recommend the following steps:

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How to Save More Energy Pennies

After I got rid of the crazymaker, it was time to heal my burnout and start saving some energy pennies. I regret to inform you that I did that in some of the most basic and mundane ways. Here’s what worked for me;

Do You Have a Crazymaker Who Spends Your Energy Pennies?

Is there a crazymaker in your life? How do you keep them from taking over your life? How do you build up your energy pennies? What’s your biggest energy penny drain?

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