A creative sabbatical
A couple of weeks ago I was talking with my colleague Saskia Tjepkema about creating work you love. I realised that I had been doing so many projects at the same time that I found it hard to take time off to focus on creating new ones that I was really enthusiastic about. This is how the idea of having a one-month creative sabbatical this January arose. I’m now in the process of planning it and I’m going to share some updates with you along the way.
If I do something I’ve never done before, I usually start with Google. One of the first things that came up was this HBR blog by Gina Trapani. She talks about the creative sabbaticals of designer Stefan Sagmeister, who closes his office every seven years for a whole year to find creative inspiration. He explains it himself in this TED talk:
One of the things that Stefan talks about is whether or not to make a plan, on which he says the following:
In the beginning, on the first sabbatical, it was rather disastrous. I had thought that I should do this without any plan, that this vacuum of time somehow would be wonderful and enticing for idea generation. It was not. Without a plan I just reacted to little requests, not work requests, those I all said no to, but other little requests. Sending mail to Japanese design magazines and things like that. So I became my own intern.
Knowing I have the same tendency, I thought it would be good to make some kind of plan for the creative sabbatical.
Seven creative projects
The first thing I realised was that I wouldn’t have a full month, as I already had meetings planned with colleagues and clients. So it will take some effort to really carve out some creative time. I didn’t want to create a day-to-day plan as I wish to leave room for unplanned happy accidents. So what I did come up with is a list of seven creative projects that I would like to take on in January:
- Learning more about (graphic) design tools
- Meeting creative entrepreneurs and learn about their work
- Designing prototypes of pop-up workplaces
- Exploring opportunities to write about pop-up workplaces
- Create a website about pop-up workplaces
- Talking to people about organising a pop-up workplace experiment
- Exploring different ways to pay the rent that fit with my creative endeavours
I’m really looking forward to all of them! In addition, I plan to set aside at least a day each week during the whole year just for these kind of creative projects. How would you plan a creative sabbatical? How much time would you take and what would you do?