I’ve been taking a bit of a Creative Break this week. The last six months I have moved from project to project without stopping. Added in to an already chaotic mix of meetings, rehearsals, and responsibilities is the signficant change I’ve made in my dance classes and it all makes for a crazy time.
Busy is a double edged sword. On the upside...work. I love to work and I’m never sorry to have it. But there is also a downside. When you’re moving from one thing to the other without stopping you lose things along the way. For me, focus and balance are the first casualties. I have a tendency to hyper-focus on whatever task is in front of me and I can lose perspective fast. While that hyper-focus is wonderful for the task at hand it’s hell on larger career and life goals. And when my balance goes? Well, my house becomes the Pit of Despair, my friends, family and pets start to ask to see ID, and I lose the ability to breathe physically and metaphorically.
So here I am doing “creative” work, yet at the end of it finding myself completely drained from the ensuing chaos. Thus the need for a “Creative Break”.
By break I don’t mean lying in bed eating chocolate and watching trash TV (though, I’ve done my share of that). I’m taking my foot off the accelerator. Trying not to make things happen but to stand back a bit and let things happen. Returning to my class and practice regimens, and doing mundane chores like discovering the top of my desk by clearing away six months of papers, books, and Diet Coke cans (note to self...buy new desk and cut back on the caffeine).
Most of all it means reconnecting.
First with myself. Rediscovering why I do what I do, where I want to go with it, and what I need to do to get there. Sitting still and listening to my voice. Shutting out the thousand other ones who want to tell me what I should be doing.
From there - reconnecting with others. Rejoining my creative tribes. It was a surprising realization to me that I don’t belong to just one creative tribe but to many. Each one feeds my soul in a different way. Spending time experiencing art made by others, letting their creations speak to me. Not as research or assignment but as an effort to connect to my soul.
And finally...studying. Looking for ways to see my world from a different vantage point. I’ve been reading Questlove’s Creative Quest and it turns out to be the exact right book at the exact right time. two things he said really resonated with me this week:
“If something makes you uneasy especially if it’s been done in a creative field where you have experience, pay attention. Your mind is telling you there is more to process than just your surface reaction.”
“Influence isn’t primarily about comfort food. It’s about challenging expectations of yourself.”
He has forced me to ask myself how many times I look at someone else’s art to affirm my own opinions and theories instead of allowing it to take me to somewhere new and possibly more interesting.
To break through to something new requires that sometimes I be discomforted, frustrated and even a little bit bored. Looking beyond the easy answers to the real and difficult questions hiding behind them.
So if you need me this week, that’s where I’ll be. Uncomfortable and questioning and (I hope) on the verge of my next creative phase.