There are dozens of studies that advocate the merits of doing something as simple as coloring and the effects that it can have on keeping our minds sharp. In fact, coloring books geared specifically for adults has become one of the most popular crazes this past year. In our profession, in particular, coloring and drawing seems like a no-brainer activity for us to partake in when we have free time. We are supposed to be the creative ones that come up with the wild ideas and always carry around a sketchbook where we keep our dozens of drawings and cutting edge notions. However, how many times in the last month have any of us just sat down and sketched out a weird idea or just something that we saw while walking down the street?
A few nights ago, my wife showed me a video by Barry Berkus, an architect from Santa Barbara, CA, who advocated for doing simple sketches and the merits of the activity. It got me thinking about the last time that I wrote down or drew out an idea that I had. Spoiler alert: it was a while ago. On top of that, I couldn’t remember the last time that I sketched out an idea that wasn’t directly tied to a project that I was currently working on.
So, in order to give myself some sort of creative outlet, I began carrying around a small sketchbook again. We all have those “shower thoughts” where we think we come up with a wildly great idea, so why not take two minutes to put pen to paper and memorialize it? It might turn out that the idea is terrible or ridiculous, but it could also turn out that it is actually a great one. By documenting the idea and being able to return to it later, we can draw upon that inspiration when we need it most – perhaps when we are drowning in RFIs, submittals, and a backlog of coordination.
By holding ourselves accountable for writing down and sketching out our ideas, we actually accomplish something with them. If we just think these thoughts and never put them down, they disappear and are never seen again. Being in a creative industry is deceiving because we are so often inundated with problems to solve that we forget to just have fun and stimulate our minds in different ways. I would advocate that we all take a few minutes a day, or whenever you are so moved, to just sit down and commit some of our ideas to paper (or a computer, Lego model, back of a napkin, etc.) and have fun with them. Too often, we allow ourselves to get swallowed up by meetings, emails, deadlines, looming AREs, etc. when we should give ourselves a few minutes to breathe and enjoy the trade that we have dedicated ourselves to. We should never let work and, really life in general, overwhelm us to the point where we no longer feel that we have the capacity for creativity and fun.
Now go buy a sketchbook from your local bookstore.