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Publish365 007: The Right Kind of Break

I'm very lucky. There was a time around the beginning to the middle of November when I had had enough. The idea of going down to my shop made my stomach turn. I wanted nothing to do with wood in any form. I didn't want to see another cutting board, coaster, sign, or other wood project. I couldn't stand the thought of going down there, of messing around, of cleaning up when I'm done... Everything about being in the shop made me sick to my stomach. For clarity, I never lost the will to be a maker, but I totally lost the will to do woodwork.

Unlike most makers, though, I don't only do a single thing. Not doing woodwork didn't mean I was doing nothing for two weeks. In fact, it was the opposite. I was doing a bunch of other stuff, but instead of making wooden things, I was making jewelry things and it made me so happy!

I'd love to come out with some deep thought on this topic, but the reality is I just don't have one. I think what keeps me able to be a maker is that I can jump from one thing to another and keep myself "doing things" even when doing a particular thing makes me deeply unhappy, and from my experience doing this time and time again, I find the pull to go back to doing the first thing hits in a profound way and I go back to what I was doing originally hard core. When this funk about woodwork was over, I very easily went back to woodwork after awhile with renewed enthusiasm because I had a whole bunch of ideas that I just knew would work or that I was excited to try. I even refined some of my techniques for making things I had made dozens of, and it culminated with designing customs for people for the holiday season that were well outside of what I would have attempted previously.

Taking a break to regroup is not a new strategy but sometimes the things done in that break are problematic. If you notice, I didn't "stop" I just changed paths. That's not to say that taking a complete pass on doing anything doesn't have its place, because of course it does. What I will say, though, is that sometimes creative muscles atrophy, and sometimes they're too easy to put on hiatus for an indefinite period of time that keeps getting extended until eventually you forget what you were even taking a break from in the first place. Don't ask me how I know.

Maybe the takeaway here is a simple one: before you take your break, figure out what kind of break you need. Do you need a break from "everything?" or do you need a break from "this thing?" Sometimes you actually need to stay occupied by something, just not the thing that's currently occupying you. If that describes you, then good! I'm glad I opened your eyes to what you possibly needed to here.

Breaks are important, but only the right kind of breaks will actually be as restorative as they need to be.


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