Monday, 13 January 2014

Slacking Off is Good for the Soul

Sometimes you've just gotta slack off.

I recently perused a blog post:  "The Case for Slacking Off" by Prof. Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries.

No, it's not an apologist piece on laziness or dullness. Quite the opposite. It acknowledges the natural rhythm of creativity.  Sometimes creativity flows and something is made.  Other times, the creative juices run dry and nothing will happen.  

Every writer has experienced this.  You sit down to a blank page and... nothing.  It's not Writer's Block (that's a different post).  It may be that in the natural rhythms of the creative cycle, the writer is sitting at the low point.

And not just writers.  Musicians, artists, choreographers, you name it.  If a person's job is dependent on them cranking the wheels of their brains and creating something, they'll go through highs and lows.

Highs are times of output.  Lows are times not of input, but of rest and recovery.

Sometimes the brain's gotta take a break.

The cycle's got three parts to it: the Input Phase, the Output Phase, the Resting Phase. 

Input Phase:  This is a phase for learning, for gathering info, for studying what others have done.  Writers read (oh, boy, do we read!!). Artists go to galleries. We all view the world. This is when we take in stuff.  Then we tuck this stuff in the back of our head (or the subconscious/unconscious mind, a very powerful tool in the Creative Artist's toolbox).  Later, this info will come back to us during the Output Phase.

Output Phase:  This is the obvious part of Being Creative.  This is when the novels get written, the dances get danced, the pictures get painted.  People can see the results of the creative cycle. All the stuff we've taken in has now been process and we have come up with something to communicate what's gone on in our brains.

Maybe people make the mistake of thinking that just because nothing's being put out during the other two phases, that nothing's happening.  Not true.  Like the tide moves in and out, so must our creativity ebb and flow.

Resting Phase:  After a good bout of creative work, the brain's gonna want some down time.  This is important, otherwise we can experience burnout. 

Prof KdeV recognised this last step, this Resting Phase, as a very important step, not just for us Creative Types, but anyone whose job is to Think.  (Scientists, Business Executives, anyone?)

I've known for a long time how important this "slacking off" is.

One of the skills I imbued in my offspring was how to meditate. (Not enough people acquire this skill, I opine.)  True meditation involves stilling the mind, letting it rest, and allowing it to function on a higher plane.

One of my offspring is an Artist.  Early on, I recognised she had creative periods and non-creative periods. Sometimes, during her creative periods, she had a tough time turning off her brain so she could go to sleep, so she could be well-rested for school.

So I taught her, and the rest of them, to meditate.  Now she can turn off her brain when she really needs to.

Her Grace is fond of occasionally Slacking Off.  After a day or so, she finds her energy renewed and she can go back to creating awesome stuff.

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