A Walk on the Wild Side
Constantly churning out video projects may not be the best thing for your work. We all need breaks from deadlines and an uninterrupted stream of projects. Although the bustle of deadlines and multitasking can seem exciting and invigorating at times — even producing a sort of high for a while — it’s not a sustainable workflow a person should keep up for months or years at a time.
So how can taking a walk help you?
Recent studies show that taking breaks can significantly foster creativity not just because it provides a rest period or change in scenery, but because it gives us the time and space to daydream.
That’s right. Simple daydreaming could make you a better filmmaker.
If you’ve followed this blog, you know I’m a fan of Tony Schwartz’s work at The Energy Project. He’s a proponent of fostering optimal performance through getting proper rest and having a balanced life. The Energy Project folks sum up the problem facing many creatives these days:
If we don’t intentionally step away from creative challenges periodically, we risk burn out. Beyond that, we also may be working against ourselves by plowing on without respite. Recent studies suggest creativity is enhanced and ideas come more easily when they’re not forced.
From an evolutionary perspective, mind-wandering seems totally counterproductive and has been viewed as dysfunctional because it compromises people’s performance in physical activities. However, Baird’s work shows that allowing the brain to enter this state when it is considering complex problems can have real benefits. Zoning out may have aided humans when survival depended on creative solutions.
— Matt Kaplan in Nature, May 2012
Another interesting study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2009 found that daydreaming also activates parts of our brain associated with “high-level, complex problem-solving.” According to the study’s lead author, Kalina Christoff of the University of British Columbia’s Department of Psychology:
Take a Hike, Buddy
Findings published in the journal PLoS ONE take this idea a step further, showing that nature hikes can do wonders for creativity:
— Ruth Ann Atchley, David L. Strayer and Paul Atchley
According to this study, it’s not so much the break itself that’s important, it’s performing tasks that allow the mind to wander. After all, “irrelevant actions and cognitions” are the stuff nature walks and daydreams are made of.
So the next time you are feeling stuck creatively, your best option may be taking a long walk to give your subconscious a chance to pitch in. Strolling past a spider’s web may help you recognize creative connections in your work that you hadn’t previously. Don’t discount daydreaming when it comes to generating ideas for doing more creative work.