Wednesday, August 25, 2010

White Space and Creativity

White space (or negative space) is the part of the page that's left blank. It's necessary not just to group text and graphic elements, but to give the eyes a rest. Similarly, our minds need downtime to learn and come up with new ideas. But as this article in the New York Times points out, our electronic gadgets provide temptation to fill all our downtime with distractions. If we ceaselessly shovel content into our brains, we will never have enough quiet time to be creative.

I have to admit there are times when I don't give myself enough quiet time--instead of relaxing during my lunch hour, I surf the Net or write. But there are other times, such as when I'm at the park with Alex, that I try to take time to relax, look at the clouds, and try to clear my head. It isn't easy, especially when I get earworms from Alex's shows stuck in my brain. But I've also found that when I set aside some time to be creative--for example, setting aside time to develop a plot or an alien race--several ideas may pile on top of each other.

Do you give yourself mental downtime? If so, is it just walking away from the Internet for a while, or do you take more drastic measures? Do you think more should be done to promote the importance of downtime? I wonder if some future culture will mandate everyone unplug every so often, and what affect that would have on people.


Barbara Ann Wright said...

I like to get up every once in a while and just walk around, even if it's just around my house. I find that's a terrific brain clearer.

Maria Zannini said...

Absolutely. My mental state is much improved since I moved to the boonies. When I've had enough cyber slush, I step outside and weed the garden or walk the dogs.

You need to unplug if for nothing more than to get some perspective.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

I agree with both of you that sometimes it's good to get away from the computer. One thing I like working in a lab is being able to move around. There are also times when I'm doing something mindless (like washing equipment) and can let my mind wander. Maybe someday it'll even come back. ;)

Catherine Stine said...

Absolutely! Breaks are essential to regroup. I just got back from Cape Cod where I took a total break from TV and the Net. I read a lot!! ...and jet-skied. Fast and wild sports are sooo healing.
I also read a great sci-fi: Robert Sawyer's Really good book!!! Just came out and so worth reading.

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