Sometimes, when you have been rising and grinding too hard or working on the same creative piece for too long, you need a break. Even though it sounds heroic, you just can’t be productive all of the time.
You need some distance to look at the creative problem with a fresh view. As if you had a new set of eyes.
Revigoration. Productive perspective. Aggressive attitude.
This post will inform you how I take breaks of creative work.
Why you need to take a break sometimes
It seems (this idea is not mine) that if you take a break from creative work and come back to it, you can approach the problem with new ideas. It allows for more distance to the piece you’re doing. When I was in art school, one of the requirements at figure drawing class was to a) use an unnecessarily large sheet of paper and b) to create distance from the drawing I was doing – either by drawing with a stretched arm or stepping away from the easel.
I tested out this idea (mostly through the use of napping, walking and cupping coffee) and it works – for me, at least. I’ve come into the habit of starting to write a blog post or paint a painting, put it down for a night and edit it the next day so that I’m not zoned in on the work anymore.
Taking breaks from painting or drawing
Lately I have been painting in a new style which is very energy consuming. The style is made by a lot of tedious work. Concentration is a must to make it look good. After having done 3 pieces in this style, I was tired.
So I thought of making something in a different style, just as an intermezzo. Now I’m doing a stencil piece – but with some elements from the new style, to keep the mechanics fresh.
Another (sub)method of taking a break is one that I would apply when drawing or painting in the past. After wanting a break, I’d take out my A4/A5 art journal and start doodling in it with pencil, ballpoint pen, or fine liner. I’d make small sketches which sometimes served as the basis for a bigger work. Sometimes I colour them in. I still have most of these art journals. Once every blue moon, I flip through them and see how my work has changed. This paradoxically keeps your focus fresh by diverting your focus.
When the weather allows (this is a flexible definition, a little rain or cold won’t kill you) you can also take a small walk. Use your break time to grab a coffee, meet a friend and or do some groceries. When I don’t want to get coffee or see a friend and have got enough food in the house, I’d do some light reading.
There are a lot of writing tips online that tell you that if you want to be a writer, YOU HAVE TO WRITE EVERY DAY. But even if I also count Uni work as writing, I write most days at best.
The act of writing doesn’t require daily repetition to be counted as writing. If you want to identify as a writer for your Instagram, go write every day. Knock yourself out.
I rarely grow tired of writing (I like the mental excercise) before I’m done with a piece so I rarely need breaks. Getting a cup of coffee is enough time off for me – otherwise I lose focus. Writing is different from painting in the sense that I nééd to stay in the zone. I do, however, edit my pieces at a later time or the next day – which can be considered a break.