By Brenda Riojas, I Start Wondering Columnist
In a world where we feel inclined toward rushing all the time and multitasking on several projects at once, it’s seems awkward — almost unnatural — to pause. It’s as if we think that by taking time to have a creative pause, we might miss something.
Ideas, however, don’t always come on command. Some require time.
The creative process involves a journey of exploration and a willingness to look at a problem or situation differently. We then reach a point where we need to walk away from the task that held our attention. This pause allows time for ideas to percolate.
Percolation is one of the 5 Ps in the equation I use to categorize the different components of the creative process: B(P5) = Aha! It starts with Believing (B) in our own creativity and then you factor in Play, Place, Perspective, Prospecting and, finally, Percolation.
In the percolation phase, the mind is still working. We give our brain time to sort through all the information and ideas we have been considering. The unconscious mind is making connections, looking for solutions, focusing on more than we can imagine all at once.
Roger Von Oech, author the Creative Whack Pack, notes we should “Allow the muse to whisper in your ear.” Card 32 in his pack of 64 strategies for creativity suggests we “Pause for a bit.” On the card, he offers, “Poet Doug King on the value of incubating: ‘Learn to pause …or nothing worthwhile will ever catch up to you.’”
Von Oech leaves us with the question: “What problem are you working on that would benefit from a pause?”
Your creative pause could include a nap or overnight rest. Studies show the brain needs rest to be more alert. Researchers have also observed the active state of the mind during what we would consider “resting states.” While we think we are taking a break, the unconscious mind remains active. What a beautiful gift of the mind that we can go to sleep or take a walk or a run and ideas are percolating.
I find great benefit as well working on multiple projects because it allows me to move my focus and still remain productive. I can walk away from an art project and return to it later with fresh ideas. Often one project will provide insight for another.
In my own writing process, I typically walk away after I finish a draft before I edit. I also pause from a story I am writing, not always by choice, to take care of other responsibilities such as making dinner or cleaning. It is comforting to know these distractions work into the creative process.
Give yourself a break. Take a nap, a walk, a mini sabbatical. Work on another project. While the ideas simmer, trust you will reach your Eureka moment.