I really enjoyed this comic about creativity by The Oatmeal. (And also enjoyed the article I found it in: Tobias Van Schnieder: Creativity is like Breathing.)
You inhale things by reading and watching and listening to different things you enjoy. Then you exhale through creation. Inhaling or exhaling for extended periods without doing the other can lead to bad things.
Example of inhaling too long: Part of this 100 Posts, 100 Days project came from thinking about how many books I was reading. I realized I was reading these books without applying things. I’ve described it as inhaling the same way you house food at a buffet without enjoying each individual dish. Without applying, I wasn’t really learning anything.
Example of exhaling too long: in that Oatmeal post, Matthew Inman talks about working on a comic1 for five days without leaving the house. I can’t think of anything quite like that. (Though I could see it happening if I were self-employed.) There was a time earlier this year that I was working on a small app for myself to review book highlights. My actual work was pretty intense at the time. I was programming for a few extra hours each day. I was burning the candle at both ends but with the candle in a trash fire. (Though relative to other stories on burnout, it wasn’t so bad.)
I’m more balanced right now. This blog is a good outlet for exhaling and a lot of it requires inhaling. And it’s different from my day job, which I’m guessing is also a good thing.
If I can figure out how that web app works, I’ll show how. Actually, I’ll try to fire it up.