Do you ever feel stuck in your creative endeavors? You’ve worked long and hard on a project that means so much to you and you’re so close to finishing but you’ve hit a wall. You’re making changes but it just seems to be making things worst. You’re asking for feedback but nothing seems to help. Worst of all, you can’t even tell what’s good or bad anymore.
This happens to me a lot.
But here’s one thing that I noticed works really well when I hit this brick wall:
Step away. If you’re anything like me. You may have worked on a project for months, maybe even years. And I get it. When I’m so deep into a creative endeavor, the last thing I want to do is step away. After all, I want to finish it and I want to finish it now! I’m so close!
But the problem is the same. I can’t finish it. And I don’t even know if what I’m doing is helping or hurting anymore.
I noticed when I stop working and step away for as long as two weeks and then come back to the work, I am much more capable of identifying the problem areas and fixing it in an instant. It happens fast. I know exactly what I need to do and how I need to do it.
It sounds kind of odd that I couldn’t figure it out sooner, but it also makes perfect sense.
When I step away, I give my brain a chance to take a breath and “reset” its bearings so when I return, I have a pair of fresh eyes critique the work without the emotional connection. And as I’m sure you know. Being way too personally connected with a project is one of the biggest obstacles to productivity. It blinds me to my flaws because I want to protect myself. After all, I’ve spent so much time on this project already! It CAN’T be bad!
I still find it difficult to stop working from time to time. I’m a workaholic. I willingly lose sleep on my creative projects. But now that I have over 10+ years of experience under my belt. I’m starting to figure out what works and what doesn’t. And stepping away from my work is really effective in expediting the process.
Now I make sure to step away from my projects. If I can, I ignore it for two weeks. I even forget about it. And when I come back I can usually put the finishing touches without the headache, stress and the sleepless nights.
It sounds counterintuitive because if you’re not working it sounds like you’re not making progress. But like an athlete, I think it’s important to schedule rest time so our body has a chance to recover. And once we allow ourselves the benefit of taking a break, we can come back that much stronger and capable of doing what needs to be done.
by Jason Lam