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Creativity Productivity & Work

“Creativity is like breathing”

A friend once told me that creativity is like breathing. When you make stuff, you’re exhaling. But you can’t exhale forever. Eventually, you have to breathe in. Or you’ll be dead.

Matthew Inman, Cartoonist

The more you make, the more you have to play with. But the creativity flame burns out too.

Don’t be afraid to step away every once in a while to go on vacation or read a book, whatever gets you out of your own head.

It’s ok to break up the consistency.

PS. Never worry about breaking the chain — if you learn to rest, creativity always comes back.

Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal

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Arts Creativity

Make culture, don’t just consume it

Consumption is a conduit to creativity.

Reading and curation inspire us to reproduce our thoughts and ideas to others.

The problem is, most people eat the news for entertainment’s sake.

Scrolling through Facebook and Instagram are passive experiences, doing more to keep us in our seat rather than encouraging us to get out of it.

A sedentary mind is a wasted one.

We must be proactive in structuring our systemic consumption habits.

Creativity should be the upshot of things we like and aspire to.

Developing a rhythm of productive output stimulates a flagging sense of information control. The consumer who lacks a purpose to make something of value builds neither satiation nor fire.

Feeling compelled to do something with what we see, we turn desire into a real-world creation.

When we contribute to the culture, we open up a new Pandora’s Box.

Humans consume ideas, remix them, and create culture. The history of contribution demands no right answer.

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Creativity Life & Philosophy

Creating a life of constant surprises

Every blogger wants to be an author. Every Instagrammer seeks to be a photographer. Every kid that plays FIFA wants to be Leo Messi.

The path to professionalism in real life is arduous and unlikely. Success takes a lot of talent, excitement, and some luck. But at least we can use web platforms as launch pads of interest.

If you’re a writer, write. If you’re a photographer, go out and capture. If you’re a football player, play.

Make constant mistakes, with good intentions. Everything is practice.

You don’t need permission to make stuff and share it with the world

One of the greatest advantages of the Internet is the ability to share your work and get feedback. The edgier you are, the likelier you are to stand out and get noticed.

You already have a Facebook profile, so you’re already naked; no one is truly anonymous anymore.

The world doesn’t want you to challenge it. It vows to impede your curiosity with short-sightedness.

So imagine if you could just learn and do the work, staying open to new possibilities. One thing leads to the next if you’re willing to use all the colors in the palette.

Categories
Creativity Life & Philosophy

Mental clarity begins in cleaning out the basement

The basement gets a bad rap. It’s the relegation zone. It’s a mess, with cobwebs on the door handles and mountains of dust building in the corners.

There may be mysterious sounds and unidentifiable creatures living in the cracks. But the basement also presents the biggest opportunity to turn disorder into something presentable.

When you start at the bottom, you’re working in reverse.

In cleaning out the canvass, you empty the head and suddenly envision how to fill in the blank slate with something more meaningful. You will give a new meaning to emptiness.

Anyone can emerge from the darkest places back to life if they’re willing to start from scratch. Accepting the Herculean task of debugging your messy ways can help reprogram your mind so you can breathe fresh thinking into the void.

Categories
Creativity Life & Philosophy Writing

Don’t hold that thought 💬✒️

When in doubt, speak up. Talking is a tool for excavating thoughts—microphone in hand or not. It’s only after the speaking occurs do the words begin to flow.

The same goes for writing. One doesn’t need an audience in order to do it. The movement of the pen gears the brain into motion so that words hit the top of the tongue at precisely the right time.

“The pen is the tongue of the mind.”

Horace

Speaking and writing cue the neural pathways. They lay the groundwork for ideas to germinate and bloom.

Chatter, whether external or internal, are the firsts step in solidifying beliefs and discovering something interesting to say. The real enemy is a chattering brain that hesitates and never spits it out.

Inspiration and perfection are for amateurs–start before you’re ready.

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Creativity Productivity & Work

Reexamining the Kiss Principle

“Keep it simple and stupid.” That was the acronym coined by aircraft engineer Clarence Johnson during the early 1930s. He proposed the “H” style tail for airplanes which helped stabilize flight.

Keeping it simple is always easier said than done. What may appear visually simple, took a deduction of complex details.

We don’t get to simplicity without amassing a pile of disparate parts first and then building shitty first drafts.

Complexity is often hidden within the design — such as the case with Apple products and apps like Instagram which appear simple on the outside but contain convoluted architecture and code on the inside.  

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” said Leonardo da Vinci, who painted over pieces that didn’t meet expectations. Artists like Pablo Picasso and writers like Ernest Hemingway edited down their pieces, again and again, to reduce their craft into the most practicable and understood forms.

Erasing difficulties requires patience of experimentation. It takes both head and heart work to minimize the unnecessary while maximizing utility in powerfully simple ways.

With a bit more curiosity and execution, we can turn less into more.

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Creativity Productivity & Work

It’s never too late to do something incredible

Everything good takes time.

We have to get comfortable with the idea that the work worth doing almost always never comes to fruition immediately.

Our craft is also likely to be misunderstood for long periods. There will be periods of self-doubt and chapters of confusion, all signals that the muse wants us to keep going.

If we’re 100% certain about where we’re headed, then we need a little more nuance and complexity in our life.

Being vulnerable and taking on challenges fuel aliveness, preventing one from getting too satisfied with results.

As the Japanese artist Hokusai said:

“Until the age of 70, nothing I drew was worthy of notice. At 110, every dot and every stroke will be as though alive.”

Hokusai

If we work on something long enough, it should look just as simple and confounding as when we first found it.

Categories
Arts Creativity Life & Philosophy

Chaos and structure

There’s beauty in chaos — when the outcome is limitless, ripe with multiple interpretations. Thus is nature.

It is structure that intends to display meaning. The mind stops guessing at identification, shielded with the brain’s umbrella from the books of rain.

Certain things require definition

Stairs need to be intuitive enough to walk and up and down. However, silly putty asks to be flexed and misunderstood. Both are pieces of art, finished or unfinished.

Art requires mixing materials. The end product just needs to work, perfect or carefully disorganized.

The freedom to create is also the freedom to appear unfinished, spaces left vacant for the curious mind to fill in. “One must have chaos within oneself to give birth to a dancing star,” said Nietzsche.

One never overcomes the chaos — they merely live in it.

Categories
Arts Creativity Writing

Why Leonardo da Vinci wrote backward

Leonardo da Vinci wrote backward (mirror writing) because he didn’t want others stealing his ideas. Writes Da Vinci biographer Rachel A. Koestler-Grack:

“The observations in his notebooks were written in such a way that they could be read only by holding the books up to a mirror.”

But did a genius who combined art and science so brilliantly really need to hide his work? Perhaps it was practical: as a lefty, he didn’t want to smudge the ink. As a contrarian, Da Vinci also strived to be different. As blogger Walker’s Chapters writes:

“Do you really think that a man as clever as Leonardo thought it was a good way to prevent people from reading his notes? This man, this genius, if he truly wanted to make his notes readable only to himself, he would’ve invented an entirely new language for this purpose. We’re talking about a dude who conceptualized parachutes even before helicopters were a thing.”

Read more: Why Did Leonardo da Vinci Write Backwards? A Look Into the Ultimate Renaissance Man’s “Mirror Writing”

Categories
Arts Creativity Productivity & Work

Doing something is better than doing nothing

A lot of people never start because of the fear of imperfection. But when it comes to creating, something is better than nothing.

That something could be as little as a blog post — private or public — a diary entry, a podcast, a simple doodle, or if you prefer to speak through images, an Instagram post.

The habit of making and sharing your art builds confidence. Of course, there will always be others that want to put a dent in your endeavors but most people are encouraging.

Show up and do the work

Even more, two things happen when you show up to produce every day.

1. Your craft improves.

2. You establish an archive of work to pull from.

Once your daily practice of making art is set in the stone and you’ve kicked down the frustration barrier that prevents so many from being consistent, then you can go back and pull inspiration from your work.

“The unknown was my compass.”

Anais Nin

New ideas will bloom from the stems of your first drafts, especially the shitty ones. You’ll start making connections and flag concepts that need further elaboration or clarification.

The best thinking emerges when you give your work time to breathe. Reflection increases the sophistication of one’s knowledge and experience.

Through this journey, it’ll start to become clear what types of trade you enjoy, what you want to be known for, and where you want to spend the most time improving.

Creativity is not rocket science. But it requires diligence, impatience with action, and patience with trial and error.

The professional shows up on both the good days and the bad days to hack away at their inner genie. There are zero shortcuts to building quality and long-lasting output.

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