The key to approaching creativity (and avoiding productivity pr0n and burnout) is to allow yourself to step back. Let ideas come to you organically over time. As you engage in other activities (reading, watching TV, playing games) be ready for inspiration to strike from disparate thoughts, which then prompt ideas of how to re-skin them for your work.

An example is when I was looking to create the map of my D&D world. I got drawn into trying different applications to create random worlds for inspiration and to test those tools in depth. When I found a world I mostly liked, I would try to perfect it and/or recreate it in different tools. I, unsurprisingly in retrospect, then suffered burnout when things weren’t coming together as I wanted and I was basically running around in circles.

But when I went out for a walk to clear my head (see? stepping back), it occurred to me that the key to my dilemma was to wait for those disparate moments of inspiration – the ones that mostly only happen during the pursuit of other activities – to strike. Then once you’ve got the ideas you can work on implementing them with greater focus and intention.

So I gave myself permission to do those other activities. And guess what? I’ve been more creative since.

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