How a Thunderstorm Jumpstarted My Creativity


It was Friday night, and I was looking forward to a weekend of relaxed productivity. I had no social obligations, no appointments, no trips to make, no promises to keep. It was going to be two entire days that I could dedicate to planning and organizing, in the comfortable surroundings of home.

I was going to get so. much. done.

Then the storm came.
A big thunderstorm that knocked out power to half the county (or so it seemed).

At first it was strange. We just sat around awkwardly for a while, not really knowing what to do. But it didn’t take long for me to appreciate the silence and the glow of candlelight. It’s amazing how much noise the humming of appliances and ceiling fans make, and how incredibly silent it is without them.

The next morning the power was still out. I decided to stop sitting around waiting and do something productive. I’d been wanting to make a workbench but didn’t have the materials, so my husband and I went to the hardware store to buy lumber. I figured I’d start building it once the power came back and I could use my saw.

Then I realized I had nowhere to put the bench after it was finished, so I cleaned out the carport. The clutter had been bugging me for years but I hadn’t gotten around to doing anything about it.

We spent the rest of the day just hanging out in the yard, talking. It was nice. The house was quiet, I had everything I needed for the bench project, and I had crossed a project off my list that had been draining my mental energy for years.

At around 8:00 pm the power was restored. We were launched right back into humming appliances, television, fans and chores, so it was sort of bittersweet. But at least now the food in the freezer wouldn’t spoil.

On Sunday morning I started the bench project. When you spend most of your days working with digital tools, you appreciate things that are tangible – the smell of sawdust, the whir of the saw, the roughness of sandpaper. You create something that you can touch.

I stayed offline all day, and finished my workbench.

On Monday I went back to the office. I hadn’t realized the benefits of my weekend unplugged, but that was an incredibly productive day, and the designs that I created are probably my best work to date.

Coincidence? I think not. We can’t work in a vacuum. We aren’t robots. We need to take time out to recharge. Don’t think for one second that you’re different, because you’re not.

When your creativity is lacking, I challenge you to do something different. If you work online, unplug and go for a long drive or a bike ride. If you work with your hands, read a book or go for a hike. If you work alone, take your mobile office to a coffee shop or volunteer in the community. Just mix things up a bit. Distance yourself from the norm. Step out of your routine for a day or two and see what happens.

It works. I promise you. Just try it.

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