Has passport, will travel. Probably.
When I set up as a freelancer, I was convinced it would lead to far more travel.
I was going to book AirBnBs in European cities and use the changes of scenery to spark that creative fire. My desk would be wherever there was WiFi.
This might have been fuelled by the blogs and articles that clutter my Twitter feed, where much more adventurous writers share updates from unusual and inspiring locales – a far stretch from the coffee shop/dining table reality. They say it is the best way to get the creative juices flowing.
What stops me? I have been fortunate enough to get ahead of my target for year one. There’s a pipeline of work, or as much as you can expect in our line of work.
Well, life happens, clients happen, things happen. Spring becomes Summer, Summer becomes Autumn, and before you know it, tis’ the season to be jolly and every conversation starts with “Where has this year gone?”
Of course, it comes back to prioritisation. In choosing this path, I opted for freedom of choice, less conventional hours, more variety to my work – all to suit me. I prioritised that over a consistent salary, healthcare and not having to do tax calculations.
So in 2019 I’ll be making a more concerted effort to travel more with a few jaunts already in the diary.
But I also want to take the pressure off these escapes. They cannot be expected to be a miracle elixir to cure a creative block, or a place in which to have ‘the’ idea. I’d like to think I’ve had plenty of ideas to help my clients this year and my passport has remained relatively untouched.
Inspiration can be found in many places, but you have to be present enough in the moment to embrace it. Wherever you go, there you are.
The joy of travel is it allows a physical and mental separation from your daily routine and offers up new perspectives. Removing yourself from a social and cultural comfort zone forces you to consider new ideas, and travel is the most immediate way to do that. But it is rooted in giving your brain a new challenge, new information, and new stimuli.
In a study from Indiana University, participants were asked to solve a series of puzzles. The group that was told the puzzles came from California (rather than being “homegrown” Indiana University puzzles) showed more creative thinking in coming up with solutions and were more likely to solve the problems. The simple idea of it being from another place was sufficient to alter how participants acted.
That crucial sense of elsewhereness can be found in many places; the art gallery you always walk past, a good book that you never have time to start, a Netflix binge or travel documentary.
We have the world at our fingertips, full of diverse people and ideas. Make time for your mind to be curious and wend its way down a Wikipedia wormhole, to explore and be playful. Making it a priority means you won’t have to wait for the week-long escape to fuel your imagination.
Your clients will thank you. And most importantly, so will your brain.