July 1, 2014
I always seem to spot articles about creativity and how to “brainstorm better” or become a more “creative workplace” or – better yet – spot one about “how to harness one’s creativity.” I always skip them. Creativity isn’t something you can just pick up. It’s not as simple as making an epic to-do list. It’s something you need to exercise. One of my favorite articles is Colin Nissan’s “The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Normally Do” and the idea that writing is a muscle. You have to invest time and energy every day into making it stronger, making your exercises more effective and being purposeful with your goals. And, honestly, creativity isn’t that different. The difference is that writing requires practice (and voracious reading) to improve – there’s an emphasis on what you are able to do – while creativity is more often about what you don’t do; downtime is critical to improvement.
Yes, that’s right: Downtime. It’s become a foreign concept to me and that circumstance is truly of my own creation. Too often I find myself caught up in the throes of a busy campaign, wanting to get involved in a new business pitch or volunteering my “extra” time because I want to soak up every experience available to me. And that’s just within the confines of the Fast Horse world HQ. It doesn’t touch on the time invested into nurturing amazing friendships, doing boring life things like laundry and grocery shopping, reading the latest [insert: news/blog post/social media update/novel/etc.] and finding time to exercise my physical, uncoordinated muscles.
This spring, I came to understand that it’s always easier to say “I’m busy,” keep your head down and power through… but you forget to look up and enjoy life happening around you. At the end of the day, what they say is true: Life really is short and it’s worth soaking in every single second. So, I made a goal this year: To take a big vacation once a year to a new, foreign place. A place where I had never been before and would be forced to check out, recharge and feed my creativity through not following a checklist or subjecting myself to the creative endeavors of others via social media. [Cough, Instagram, Cough.] And I’m doing it. Next week I’ll be lounging on the beaches of Tulum, Mexico for a week. I plan to bring 3-4 books that I’ve been meaning to finish, a sketchpad, my camera and copious amounts of sunscreen. There will be no cell phone, no laptop and no self-imposed pressure to be connected.
And here’s the thing: It’s long overdue. I haven’t felt creatively charged since the last time I took a real, intended break from my every day responsibilities. Those breaks are necessary. They’re refreshing. And in an ideal world, those breaks should happen more than once a year. Creativity is food for the soul – inside and outside of any professional experience – it feeds and nurtures you. Cheesy? Absolutely. But it’s something we all can benefit from… giving our ideas and creative juices the energy bar they’re craving before a big day of picking things up and putting things down. The rest is just as necessary as the reps.
I look forward to coming back to Minnesota, fresh off a week of restful adventures in the Yucatán Peninsula with just me, myself and my ideas.