Gump, the fictional war hero and football star, had legs that were as strong as any the doctor had ever seen. His spine, on the other hand, was as crooked as politician. And so, he was forced to wear the orthopedic shoes and metal leg braces for three years. But despite constant ridicule, name calling, even getting his braces caught in gutter grates, the braces turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
TOURNIQUETTING — Creating a healthy sense of distance from your work by damming up the creative flow, compressing the circulation and applying pressure
When you tourniquet, fresh blood is always waiting for you when you're ready to return. Gump’s braces, then, were the tourniquets. They blocked the flow. The constricted his power. And after a few years, once the pressure reached its threshold level, there was no stopping that train. Momma said those magic shoes would take him anywhere, and she was right. That’s the power of creative tourniquetting. It requires a significant amount of delayed gratification. And it requires having enough discipline not to have discipline. You have to be willing to tie a rope around your heart just to let the blood build up.
Each winter, I stop writing for a week. It’s painful, but only because I love writing so much. And that’s exactly the point. If you love it, you need to have enough restraint to put it on hold. Because if you don’t take regular breaks from the work, it can grow stale. If you never step back from the trees, you’ll forget about the forest. What’s more, creating a healthy sense of distance from your work gives you the space to refresh, replenish and rejuvenate. And by damming up the flow, compressing the circulation and applying enough pressure, there’s an explosion waiting for you.
That’s what smart artists do, they fast. They take creative sabbaticals. Ideally, right after they’ve been on a roll for a while. Yes, it requires tremendous restraint, especially if you love to create. But part of having discipline is having enough discipline not to have discipline. Are you willing to tie a rope around your heart just to let the blood build up?
Prevent your work from growing stale through overuse
Set up an explosion of inspiration waiting for you when you return
Give your creative muscles the necessary space to refresh, replenish and rejuvenate
Gain perspective about a project that you’ve been too close to for a while