Breaks and Distractions

Unrelated to our recent hiatus, let's talk for a moment about breaks.

You may notice that some of your best ideas come to you, not when you're trying to find them, but when you're letting your mind wander. This is normal, and why the subject of breaks and distractions is important.

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When you're looking for ideas, the most eager parts of your brain are hard to ignore. It may be the anxiety of deadlines or the pressure to produce something good. Whatever the case, you're taking a difficult path. Take some time to distract yourself from the pressure, and your mind will keep looking in the background.

Try to trust yourself, have faith you'll find something. You don't know what you're looking for, so why not wander a bit.

You can go for a walk, do some chores, or go people watching. Don't do something that's going to consume all your mental attention, like playing on your phone. Do something that feels like you're keeping your forward momentum.

Trey Parker, one of the creators of South Park, talks about how he builds with legos to keep his creative juices flowing in the movies A Lego Brickumentary and 6 Days to Air. Another example: if you watch any given episode of The Fourth Panel, a show that documents the creation of the webcomic Penny Arcade, you'll notice that, while they come up with ideas, Mike Krahulik is always tossing around a little ball. That's another good way to relieve pressure.

Yes, you should work hard, play some games, research topics, and give your mind plenty to work with. But then, take a breather. You may find your breaks are far more important than you thought.

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