In order to gain creative insight, we must sometimes step away from work. While some people benefit from a few hours away, others, like Bill Gates, benefit from a few days. Much of 21-time Grammy winning artist Kanye West’s best work — including The College Dropout, 808’s & Heartbreak and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy — has been the result of self-imposed hiatuses.
In fact, his entire career pivot from producer to performer was the result of extended time away from work. In an interview with 12 Years A Slave director Steve McQueen, Kanye reflected on the importance of his first hiatus:
I think I started to approach time in a different way after the accident. Before I was more willing to give my time to people and things that I wasn’t as interested in because somehow I allowed myself to be brainwashed into being forced to work with other people or on other projects that I had no interest in.
So simply, the accident gave me the opportunity to do what I really wanted to do. I was a music producer, and everyone was telling me that I had no business becoming a rapper, so it gave me the opportunity to tell everyone, “Hey, I need some time to recover.”
But during that recovery period, I just spent all my time honing my craft and making The College Dropout. Without that period, there would have been so many phone calls and so many people putting pressure on me from every direction — so many people I somehow owed something to — and I would have never had the time to do what I wanted to.
Whether it’s in the form of a vacation, a sabbatical, or unemployment — you owe it yourself to take some extended time away from work.
Removed from routine, pressure and expectations, the insight you’ll likely receive into “the big picture” could effectively change the course of your life just as it did for Kanye West. At the very least, you’ll return with some deeper creative insight for your next project.
This post was originally published on Year One.