If you’ve checked in recently, you know I’m in the end stages of a long term project. Which, in the life cycle of the creative process, means I am slogging through the Very Intense and Very Boring segments of making sure everything is ready to Never Be Altered Again (ideally). And I’m also going without the idealistic, spitfire, throw-it-at-the-wall, high energy moments that rejuvenate the beginnings of a project. At least in my own practice, this is the danger zone. It’s the Black Night, the Pit of Despair, the Belly Of The Whale, because I get distracted, and bored, and second guess all the elements I felt had merit.
My fall back strategy:
Shorter but more frequent work periods spaced out by *planned*
*constructive creative rest*
It’s time to feed the subconscious. We’re not working on projects on purpose, but we’re ingesting curated media with the goal of just… having it rattling around.
In august, while struggling with a particularly difficult writing problem, the constructive rest was reading this book cover to cover:
Another time, when InDesign was feeling particularly fickle, constructive rest was spending 45 minutes rediscovering this childhood favorite- tracing the illustrations onto parchment paper, then immediately throwing each drawing out as it was finished-
Sometimes, it’s getting up from the computer, turning to a random page here- and reading until the pounding in the eyes recedes
Most frequently though, constructive rest is letting Wikipedia rabbit holes open themselves. The forms productive brain rest can take are fairly limitless.
But two things separate constructive rest from general leisure:
- The ingested media can realistically be reapplied to an element of a current or future project
- While the activities can resemble leisure (walking, watching, listening, reading, drawing, whatever), the level of care and attention is equal to that of a paid or professional activity
In short, constructive rest is *potential* work, that is treated with the *energy* of work but is not in anyway related to the *current* work project on the table.
And while it’s treated like work, it’s important to constantly remind myself that there is no goal to constructive rest. The minute brain starts to say “ooh, I could turn this into xyz whatever” it’s time to click to a different article, video, song, etc. Just eat the damn cake, don’t worry about the one you’re going to bake tomorrow.
That’s the power. It’s in the feeling of productivity without responsibility or consequence. Which, in the end stages of a long term project, consequence is all my brain wants to whisper about.
Constructive creative rest is a critical part of landing the artsy-fartsy plane. It siphons off the fidget steam slow cooking my brain and keeps refreshing the ideas catalogue for the inevitable moments of “Dear God What Do I Do Now”. And while I carry great shame for moments during a work day that I spend “screwing around” on unrelated internet spirals, I unapologetically use moments of constructive creative rest in times like these. Honestly, without them, I’d never get anything done. So long as the time is again, planned, deliberate, applicable, and accountable, anything is on the table.
Here are my recent click-holes:
See ya soon