Let me start by answering the question, “what is creative work?” I think it will be easier to answer this question by listing the features that we will not encounter in this type of work. If we want to achieve exactly the result we follow, we choose one of several options, we put something together with several elements to choose from, or we rigidly follow someone else's orders, we do not do creative work.
Based on what I wrote above, can the work of a programmer be called creative work? It definitely depends on the task set before him, but often the programmer faces challenges that bear the mark of creative work. In my opinion, an inseparable element of this type of work is the fight against crises.
When I write about crises, I mean situations where a programmer gets stuck trying to solve a programming problem. This is the moment when ideas run out, and another attempt to approach the challenge from a different angle does not bring the expected result. There are at least some good pieces of advice you can come across when looking for information about creative blocks. I think it's worth remembering them.
I came across the observation that in a situation where we are overwhelmed by information and opinions, it is much easier to recognize a given thought as one that is not worth attention. It is hard to disagree with this opinion. It is therefore worth writing down, at least in the form of single sentences, emerging ideas, so that you can come back to them.
I think that there is no person among us who has not found a solution to a problem in a situation that does not require much attention from us and allows our thoughts to go away. I know from my own experience that when we no longer see the solution, the best solution is often to get away from the problem. It is possible that the more we are absorbed in the search for a solution, the more it prevents us from seeing it, even if it is at our fingertips.
There are many ways to catch your breath, as I mentioned above. It is worth spending time on an activity that will allow us to get away from the problem we are supposed to solve. Otherwise, I doubt the effectiveness of such a procedure. Much depends on how much time we can spend, but also on our interests and hobbies. It happens that, for example, a walk with the dog or a longer sleep is enough, which will allow us to rest better. In my case, what helps me are cycling and hiking.
I would like to write a few words about one such hiking trip. Planning is inseparable in our professional life, so I decided to keep it to a minimum during the trip. All I needed was relatively good weather and buying a one-way ticket the day before departure. My goal was the highest mountain range of the Carpathians and a few-day lonely trip along the trails of the Tatra National Park. Due to the fact that I had camping equipment, I did not even focus on where I would spend the night.
I was in Zakopane late in the evening. It turned out that the attempt to find an active campsite was unrealistic due to the fact that it was September and the lack of tourists staying in this way prompted the owners of the campsites to close them. I spent the night in a meadow overgrown with tall grass, having received prior permission from its owner. It was a rainy night, but the weather was supposed to improve significantly day by day.
I spent the next 3 days on the trails, hiking between mountain huts where I stayed overnight. Due to the fact that in September the traffic on the trails is much lower than in the tourist season, there was no need to book further accommodation. I planned the next stages on an ongoing basis, taking into account the advice of the tourists I encountered. These were wanderings among the sounds of deer in the ruts, whistling marmots, under the watchful eye of mountain goats. Beautiful views only encouraged more and more demanding trips from day to day.
Although I went to the mountains alone, in my opinion, it is definitely better to wander in companionship. When spending the night in shelters, finding companionship for the next few days is not a problem. Accidentally met people are extremely nice and helpful to each other, which encourages you to make new friends.
You will probably ask whether my wander helped me solve the problem, to which I devoted a number of hours. Yes! This trip helped me to unblock my mind and take a new approach to my problem. The solution turned out not to be as complicated as it was expensive to get to. I hope that I managed to inspire you to deal with difficulties in such, not-always-obvious ways. I think it is worth considering the statement that the solution to the problems we encounter during creative work is sometimes easier to find by devoting time to something completely different.