I’ve mentioned this subject before in my article about dealing with creative blocks, but I thought that it deserved an article of it’s own. This might not work for everyone, but it can be extremely useful to have at least a couple of creative projects on the go at any one time. In fact, a couple – two – is probably the perfect number, since it’s manageable enough for you to either work on each project equally or to have one porject as your main project and keep the other as a “backup” in case you have writer’s block.
For example: I’m writing articles and reviews for this blog and also producing either a comic project or an art project (at the time of writing this article, I’ve returned to making “Damania” comics for a while). The two are reasonably equal in terms of the amount of effort that I put into them, but I usually tend to lean slightly more towards making comics than writing articles. Still, they often compliment each other quite well.
One important thing to remember is that the two projects should be reasonable different from each other and, ideally, should involve totally different forms of creativity. The reason why this is so important is that different forms of creativity often have a different “feel” to them (this is the best way I can think to express it). They involve different emotions, different techniques and a different state of mind.
Ideally one of these projects should be something which feels a lot more spontaneous and less rigidly-structured. It should probably be more abstract, musical or visual too. I’m not sure exactly why this works so well, but it might have something to do with the fact that each side of the brain tends to process different things – the left side of the brain processes things like words and numbers, whereas the right side of the brain processes things like sounds and images.
I’m not a neuroscientist, so I don’t know if this is still the current understanding of how the brain works or whether it’s actually a myth – but I’ve read it in a few books/articles over the years. It’s also the basis for the theory that left-handed people are more creative (since supposedly, the right sides of our brains are the dominant side and vice-versa for right-handed people). But, obviously, you don’t have to be born left-handed in order to be creative. Though it possibly helps 🙂
I didn’t come here for a science lecture which is probably riddled with errors! Your mind is wandering!
True. I should probably cover some possible questions that people might have about this subject…
Ok, good. But, if you have multiple projects, won’t you spread yourself too thinly, so to speak?
There’s a lot to be said for single-mindedly focusing on one project and there are certainly times when it’s the best thing to do. However, I believe that having multiple projects is more useful most of the time anyway – for the simple reason that it allows you time to “recharge”. Since, if you’re working on just one project and you start to feel blocked and uninspired – then you can either try to keep going with it or leave it for a while (both approaches have their merits).
However, if you have a second creative project going, then you can move over to that for a while until you feel refreshed enough to go back to your original project. This has all the benefits of just taking a break, but it also means that you’ve made something else in the meantime (which is especially useful if you’re either on a schedule or have set yourself a schedule).
But, if you’re feeling really exhausted and/or burnt-out creatively – then just taking a proper break is far more useful than working on your second project.
Plus, you don’t have to focus on both projects equally either – if one feels more compelling, then focus on it more than the other one for a while. For example: when I get writer’s block on here, I usually tend to throw myself into working on my comics (and just post filler posts here) and vice versa if I’m feeling uninspired with my comics.
But I’m only interested in/talented at one type of creativity. I’m just a writer/artist/musician/sculptor/poet/programmer [delete as appropriate] and nothing else!
If you’re only really drawn to one form of creativity (and learning/practicing another form of creativity can be a worthwhile project in and of itself) then just make sure that your two projects are fairly different, but still use the same type of creativity. For example: If you’re a writer, then possibly work on a non-fiction project and a fiction project. Or if you’re an artist, then possibly work on both conventional drawings/paintings but also work on comics too.
Why must they be different anyway?
For the simple reason that, to use an old saying, variety is the spice of life. Not to mention that, if they’re too similar then – if you have a creative block with one of them, then you’re more likely to feel blocked with the other one too.
As I said at the beginning of this article, this approach isn’t for everyone – but it might be worth trying nonetheless. However, if it feels too exhausting, then just switch back to focusing on one project. Basically, just do whatever works for you.