Creatives Need More Than One Creative Outlet

image of computer and a cordless drill

I need creative outlets to stay sharp

When you spend your time trying to solve problems through creativity, it’s a little like being a wizard—you can’t just conjure something out of thin air without the right talents in your DNA. Creative people are just different, plain and simple. Our brains are wired differently. We think differently, act differently and see things differently. What we do takes constant thought, struggle, and self-criticism. And it’s exhausting.

That’s why it’s important for me to have other outlets and interests, so my brain won’t explode. I need to be distracted, to solve problems that exist in the real world. For instance, I have many hobbies and fun stuff I like to do outside of work, but the most beneficial of my creative outlets for sharpening my skills is doing home improvement work. It takes a little math, a little imagination and a lot of sweat equity. Most of all, it takes my mind to another place. I don’t have to mix my own paint tints or mill my own lumber to get gratification from updating my basement or bathroom. I don’t have to satisfy a client (except maybe my wife, Holly) and I don’t have to worry about focus groups or media deadlines.

One of my side projects: the master bathroom

  • Day 1: Beginning the demolition. Bye-bye mauve walls and pink tiles.
  • Day 2: Leveling/shimming the framing to prep for Durock and tiling.
  • Day 9: Drawing out the tile designs.
  • Day 14: Almost done tiling. Like my makeshift weights for glass shelving?
  • Day 16: Shower completed. Now for the rest of the bathroom. At least I can shower now.
  • Day I-Lost-Track: Almost there.
  • Day 40-something: Complete!

Stay sharp. Find your outlet.

For me, doing work after work helps me do my job better. The side projects on the house give my creative muscles a bit of downtime, which paradoxically makes them stronger. Unlike preparing spreadsheets or filling out forms, creativity isn’t a job we can finish and forget. Having other outlets helps my brain reboot, which means I stay sharp for whatever creative challenge is next.

What’s your outlet? Does it help you on the job?

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