No, not the fun kind where you fall and break 17 bones because, like me, you’re old (no, that didn’t really happen).
I’m talking about the Creative Break, where you break all your pens, pencils, brushes, canvases, brains...no? Not that kind either?
Well, what kind of break are you talking about?
I’m talking about the kind where you take a Break from your creative endeavors (okay, and maybe break a pen or two).
A couple years ago, I was listening to an episode of the podcast Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert. In it, she helped a fellow author who was stuck.
You know stuck, right? Where you stare at a blank screen, a blank journal, a blank canvas, and you get a strong desire to smash it, quit, never do it again, but you don’t because you were told to just paint, write, create whatever comes to your mind because that’s what you’re supposed to do since everyone in the history of the world did that and it’s easy so why isn’t it easy for you.
So you decide you need to quit.
Yeah, that kind of stuck.
How did Elizabeth Gilbert help? Well, she told her to take ONE MONTH OFF.
NO! You can’t! You HAVE to stare at a blank space and create...something...eventually!
Yeah, take a month off. Then, use a timer and sit, and write for one hour. When the timer goes off STOP! No matter what- okay, maybe finish that sentence, BUT THAT’S IT!
That part of the podcast ended there, and she interviewed Neil Gaiman (MY WRITING IDOL!!!), then interviewed the author at the end of that month.
At that point in my writing, I was stuck. I didn’t want to write! I wanted to give up before I ever really got started.
So, what did I do?
I took September off.
I’m a teacher, so I figured September would be a good month off. I had plenty to do early on in the school year. But, I still had to fill that time at night when I’d sit, and write. Or stare at a blank screen.
It was hard, especially towards the end of the month, as I was chomping at the bit to write. I had ideas flowing, things I wanted to edit. The ideas I did write down (can’t lose them!), but I held off on EVERYTHING else until October 1st.
Did it help? Yes! Tons! That next calendar year was my most productive EVER.
I did it again in September of 2017, even though I didn’t feel I needed it, and had another productive year.
This year? Well, I took off part of August already, and will take off the next two weeks, to complete a month, but I’m ready to go already.
Do I feel like I want to quit? Nope! Did I feel frustrated when I started? A bit, but nothing major. I’m just taking the month off to refresh.
Try a break from creativity when you’ve hit a prolonged slump, you never know what might come of it.
Have you ever taken a regular break from creativity? Let me know about it!