I had the longest Christmas break ever in 2011. 25 straight days away from the desk. It would have been way too long were it not for the fun to be had from my 3 1/2 year old having his first proper Christmas where he 'gets it'.
A side effect of the break was a return to filling notebooks with ideas, building little side project tools in the evening, and generally creating stuff in a way I haven't done for some time.
So what drove this?
I have a creative job. I design things. I build things. I solve problems, or at least delve into and define problems. Every day. My brain obviously has a drive to do this – so during the break it directed the energy at other problems.
And, in the few weeks before the break I'd been to Build and to the Northern Lights conferences. Both were inspiring. Both got the brain working. Summed up by one wee line in the build talk from @wilsonminer: “You know what we get to do when we leave here? We get to make things.”
But I think there's something more.
Looking at my behaviour over the period there was a huge drop in my consumption of media. I spend a couple of hours a day commuting, and spend almost all of that time listening to (mainly) tech / business / science podcasts. A fair chunk of my evening will be spent working or listening to podcasts, reading books, touring kickstarter, keeping up on hacker news etc…
It's a guess, but I think that some creative drive is partly satisfied simply by the knowing that other people are out there creating. By listening to smart people talk about the smart things they did, my brain gets a little hit of innovation, and relaxes. The urgency to make stuff disipates because so much stuff is already being made.
Like when serial killers watch Steven Seagal movies and then just stay in on an evening.
So I'm experimenting with keeping my head stuck in the sand. Or at least one ear in the sand. Instead of listening to tech podcasts during my commute I'm listening to some Miles Davis and toying with ideas on the iPad or in a notebook. I'm avoiding wasting my 'hands free' time just listening. I can listen to TWIST while I cook!
So far it's proving to be fun. The proof will, however, be in the shipiting!