It's All in the Details
Everyone seems to experience burn out. It's not necessarily always the big kind where you quit your job and sell all your things and travel the world for a year. Sometimes it's just the small kind. The kind where you've got a good thing going but your battery could use a recharge. The kind where you just need to flex a muscle that's not getting used. This is the kind I've been feeling lately.
I thought a week-long vacation would help. But when I got back it was actually worse. With jet lag piled up on top of zero inspiration I was in a creative funk. I felt like I was in school again just completing projects for the deadline but not necessarily excited about them. It was back into the mind-set of time is money. Just crank things out and then hit the next project. It was an unrelated email that popped up in my inbox that helped pull me out of the mud. It asked "Will you let me know some of your favorite stores and / or things?" My immediate response was Taco Bell and face masks. Do you see the burn out?
But then I sat and thought about it more, "my favorite things?" I decided to take a peek at the scrolling black hole known as Pinterest to see if anything would jump out at me. After some time I realized I was drawn to print and type. I was re-pinning a large amount of menus, with type writer styled fonts and colors that resembled pale pinks, greens and mustard yellows. Was I yearning for new colors and fonts to work with? Maybe a different medium?
I decided to play around with these colors and fonts but stay within keynote. Maybe I would create a template. And then I saw it, Wes Anderson. One of my favorite Directors of all time. That was my favorite thing! Everything I had pinned had a similar vibe to his style. His movies, his design, his color choices, his music. With this realization staring me down I decided to read The Making of Fantastic Mr. Fox a book I had not yet gotten around to. This flipped the switch. This was the firework of creativity I needed.
This book was filled with notes, sketches, puppets, sets, stills from the movie, everything, and I was sucked in. I read all the emails and interviews. What makes Wes Anderson so fascinating is his attention to details. The thought that went into the fabric that should be used for each character's costume. The edits that would be made for a single shot of the town square. The storyboarding details of just a few frames. "And part of recording the voices outside of a controlled environment was just so we'd have the opportunity for some things to go wrong, or some things to surprise us." Even creating mistakes had been thought of.
It made me realize that while time is money, passion is in the details. What I needed was a project where I could dig into the details and get excited. I quickly realized what that project was, and how similar the process for a presentation was to that of making a stop motion film. It had been awhile since I had the chance to work with a post-it note outline and step away from the computer and sketch out a storyboard of my own. It's been great to find colors and fonts that are different and new. As I build out this presentation I've realized this one is less about cranking it out to meet a deadline. I get to set the deadline for this project. Even when I think I've completed a slide I think to myself "the care is in the details." What little thing might be missing? What thing might not belong? What are the details?
I've finally gotten rid of the burn out. I'm as excited as I've ever been about what I'm working on and things on the horizon. If you're experiencing a burnout I highly recommend checking out the process of your favorite artist, director etc. For me it was learning about the process of creating Fantastic Mr. Fox. I also watched his newest film Isle of Dogs and checked out the behind the scenes making of that film. Seeing the work it took to build some of my favorite films has reignited me with this desire to put in the work to projects that I want to become my favorite.