Take a break
During a recent project many small tasks were being dropped into a queue for a couple of days in a row, resulting in an unexpected absence from the project for some 10 days. Despite the quite intensive unease through that period, almost every tiny technical detail vanished from my brain, so I had to pick up where we left off remembering only the general concept.
It turned out that this was exactly what I needed. Getting away from the project specific challenges for a while and having sub-consciousness crunch it on its own, proved to be the key for an immediate creative burst once I got back to continue working on the project.
All of a sudden, massive amounts of sketches where drawn in the notebook. Once finished, the typography specimen covered all content types for all common use cases in a very obvious way. Even a few random blog posts that were kept in the Reference Bookmarks showcasing some nifty accessible CSS3 methods became relevant out of the blue.
“What was I thinking?”
Reading the internal brief we had written before the unexpected pause, turned into a merciless removal of at least a half of the “ideas” that we initially thought were fantastic. Every such edit to the project dossier felt natural and straightforward. The feeling was refreshing, because the mind was clear.
It happens to others, too
Then I have read the following quote from an American novelist Zodie Smith:
“When you finish your novel, if money is not a desperate priority, if you do not need to sell it at once or be published that very second — put it in a drawer. For as long as you can manage. A year of more is ideal — but even three months will do. Step away from the vehicle. The secret to editing your work is simple: you need to become its reader instead of its writer. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat backstage with a line of novelists at some festival, all of us with red pens in hand, frantically editing our published novels into fit form so that we might go on stage and read from them. It’s an unfortunate thing, but it turns out that the perfect state of mind to edit your novel is two years after it’s published, ten minutes before you go on stage at a literary festival. At that moment every redundant phrase, each show-off, pointless metaphor, all of the pieces of dead wood, stupidity, vanity, and tedium are distressingly obvious to you.”