If you’re like me, it’s hard to stop once I’ve started something. If I am writing, I have to reach some milestone before I can close to lid on my macbook. If I am recording, I have to get the song done. If I am painting, I want to complete it before I walk away. Whatever I do, I have a hard time walking away from it. I work myself to death sometimes.
I don’t just mean I have a hard time stopping a single project I’m working on either. Once I am done with one, I am on to the next one immediately. Maybe I’ll take a quick break to make some coffee or walk Koa but I am quickly back to working on something else, trying to get it done too. It’s never-ending.
After multiple burnouts, I am learning to slow down and enjoy things more. I am getting better at living in the moment. I have come to realize that slowing down helps me a lot. But I am also noticing something else that’s helping me greatly: I am completely turning off my creative drive every once in a while.
I literally spend all day either creating something or thinking about the next thing that I want to create. That is literally what I do. It’s miserable really. Ask my wife. It drives her crazy.
Recently, though, I have been forcing myself to completely turn that urge to create off. I struggle to do it, but I have been getting better at it. What I have found is that it doesn’t decrease my creativity, instead, it heightens it and reenergizes it. I have found that “turning of my creativity” allows me to be inspired in ways I can’t be if I’m constantly on.
I look at it like this: I can either input or output. I can’t do them at the same time. If I am stuck on output, I am depriving myself. Sure, I am creating and inventing a lot, but that stuff probably isn’t my best.
Artists, have you ever asked yourself this question: How can my work inspire others, if I myself am not inspired?
That’s what I have been asking myself. Creating is good. Creating a lot is good. Only creating and never stopping to enjoy the world and let it inspire you? That can’t be good.
In his book No Future Without Forgiveness, Desmond Tutu said,
… forgiveness is like this: a room can be dank because you have closed the windows, you’ve closed the curtains. But the sun is shining outside, and the air is fresh outside. In order to get that fresh air, you have to get up and open the window and draw the curtains apart.
I think creativity works the exact same way. Don’t get stuck on the dark, dank inside. Open up the windows. Let something in. Be enlightened and refreshed. Be inspired. And pass that inspiration on to others.
So… go do something. Go on a walk. Visit a park. Find a great view of the city. Read a book. Jump out of a plane (with a parachute). Spend time with your family. Do something today that you’ve never done before. Take a break.
Be selfish for a minute or two.
And when you come back, make something that will inspire me.
I need it!
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