Monday, February 28, 2011

Creative People Need Breaks

It's a well known fact that most American companies give drastically fewer days off per year than European ones tend to. And, in theory, I get it. More days working means more work gets done. And we Americans (well, some of us anyway) love to run ourselves into the ground with our all-important work. But you know what--that's messed up.

I've been working as a comics editor, writer, and teacher for almost 10 years now, and you know what? I've got a couple of regrets. Don't get me wrong, I'm very well aware that I'm in a field that I love and I enjoy the work I do that provides for my family--and I completely understand how important that is and how lucky it makes me, so I'm not complaining--no sir, not by any stretch. Okay, that said, onto my regret (I'm only going to hit one here tonight)...

I regret not slowing down more often. Every time I take a vacation, I come back refreshed, wanting to work and brimming with new ideas from storylines to ways to market comics, to pricing strategies and so on.

And I'm guilty of doing this to myself. I have my staff job, I run Comics Experience and I write. So, I can't blame anyone else for my working habits.

Lately, I've been spending too much time working on comics. I've got a new baby at home, and I don't feel like I'm even beginning to get to know him yet. So this weekend, I decided to put all comics related things on the back-burner. Figure some things out, refocus when I dive back in tomorrow morning.

You know what I did today though? I held my infant son and rocked him to sleep for an hour and a half this morning. Then I played with Cale, my older son, rough-housing a bit, before the whole family piled in a car to drop my wife off at a baby shower. She took Oliver (the new one, if you're having trouble keeping track) with her. So Cale and I went down to Mission Bay--a nearby park on the water--and biked together for five miles, stopping at playgrounds along the way to play games. After that, we went home and played outside with some neighbor friends. I got some more Oliver holding time in and we sat down for dinner. After dinner, Cale and I made a fort, played some more indoor games, and then he and I decided to have a sleep-over in his room. He's now konked out right next to me.

Then I started thinking--tired as I am--about going into the office tomorrow--and what I plan to do with Comics Experience over the next month or so. I spent the whole day NOT thinking about comics--only focusing on having fun with my two kids and wife. And the end result is that I have a million new ideas about COMICS.

My plea to employers everywhere is this: wise up. Give more vacation time. More Paid Time Off. Give a half day here and there. But let your employees recharge their batteries often. You'll get better, more innovative work out of them every single time.

Okay, got to put the computer away now before Cale wakes up!

But tomorrow, I'm starting to take two weeks off to refresh my batteries.