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Creativity Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Never mind the mood

The work doesn’t begin or end at the mercy of mood. Feeling lazy or prepared is neutral — both are non-starters. The mood’s texture remains unchanged. 

Having a daily discipline is the best way to keep the shipping alive. Habits are stronger than moods. 

If your emotions or conditions get in the way because you’re either unmotivated, too sick or cold, exhausted, or missing the perfect seat, you’re screwed. 

Sitting in the chair and beginning promptly by 10 AM is non-negotiable. By sticking to a schedule, you alleviate the pain of starting while forcing yourself to dance with all the anxieties that arise. 

If you get frustrated or stuck, try running out the clock. So be it — you showed up but didn’t produce. 

Dissatisfaction is part of the creative process. Afterward, rest or take your thoughts for a walk to digest the reality of incompleteness. A blank canvass with even the most disappointing attempts is a refreshing experience. There is always tomorrow!

When your perspiration and dedication are the muses, the creativity always comes back because the motivation is the same. The sink keeps dripping. 

Even while going about your day, discipline pays off. Deep work compounds, as the brain uses rest periods to reconvene, reconnect, and make sense of all the input. 

Creativity is complicated, but moods are untrustworthy. Once you’re committed to the process while following your curiosities, there’s no wasted time. 

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Arts Creativity Productivity & Work

Beware the mind virus

Creativity dwindles with age. First, school sucks it out of you, and then corporate work puts the nail in the coffin. 

Patterns of normality and absolutes are leaches. Like a mind virus, they try to kill off the imagination and train your organic reflexes into compliant sheep. 

If you’re lucky, you’ll have no choice but to follow the siren song of vocation. Suppose that means becoming an artist; if it’s a bank teller, ditto. Follow up your calling way with the utmost passion. To echo Mark Twain, “The secret of success is making your vocation your vacation.”

Never let your ambition slip out of sight. The happiest people chase their human truths to exploit time. 

As the musician Brian Eno reminds us, “Try not to get a job. Try to leave yourself in a position where you do the things you want to do with your time and where you take maximum advantage of wherever your possibilities are.”

Following the herd is a mind virus. Ride the mind wave of opportunity instead. 

Categories
Culture Tech

We make great trends

Some people enjoy the process of discovery. They want access to niche communities and discrete resources, trying to “get it” before everyone else.

These people are also the incubators of trends, filtering the good from the bad before deciding what goes mainstream. Naturally, the edgy curator loses interest as soon as something becomes a commercial sensation.

But the internet flips the trendsetters on their heads. The so-called cratediggers become an uber tribe of their own. Take a walk around Brooklyn, where hipsters run rampant.

The arrogance of taste consumes the hipster, ultimately conforming to a cohort that shares similar interests and looks the same. Uniqueness becomes standardization. 

Meanwhile, the closet researcher remains individuated in digging up abstract art for themselves and for their little circle. For them, popularity is rarely a barometer of what matters

The difference between standing out and fitting in lies at the center of who we are. We are all collectors and explorers of each other’s artifacts. We are also free to throw away, remix, redefine, or tweak that which sturs us.

As influential physicist Richard Feynman reminds us, “You are under no obligation to remain the same person you were a year ago, a month ago, or even a day ago. You are here to create yourself, continuously.”

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Life & Philosophy Photography Science

More than a job

The photographer’s job is to capture. They get a pass on intrusion despite a face of expressive flesh. So too does the scientist who uses their more elusive hands to dabble in a dangerous experiment.

The maker needs no excuse to have skin in the game, as they should feel free to explore via an aura of invisibility to discover and connect the seemingly unconnected.

Creativity is an imaginative process that makes one bolder. Both the artist and scientist live to be more than proactive, to think and feel something beyond the sheath of obviousness.

Should palette beget the pedestal, fame and earned respect follow from doing what matters.

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Arts Creativity Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

From seeing to believing

Obvious to you, not to others.

It’s the human condition to see patterns but leave them to abstraction.

Identifying the gaps is only the start. No one gains from keeping silent on the puzzle of opportunity.

What occupies the rest of the grey space is doing the work.

Creators play the dual role of keen observer and competent persister. They control the master switch between idea and reality, optimizing their time, energy, and luck while never having all three simultaneously.

Anyone can learn how to see — how to build off a concept, sell the story, and contribute something meaningful is the worthiest challenge.

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Arts Creativity Productivity & Work

A panoply of tools

What’s the primary device that unlocks your creativity — the camera, a pen, or the paintbrush?

These tools are our passport to freedom. So photographers speak through photos, writers communicate in text, cartoonists draw, etc.

“We become what we behold,” Marshall McLuhan said, “We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.”

Tools for Titans
Photo: Bill Robertson

Our vocation shapes our perspective and predetermines our output.  

But we gather scraps of ideas everywhere; through unintended eavesdropping, mishearing things, and misread headlines. Artists are scavengers.  

We combine divergent widgets in our toolshed to strengthen the entire arsenal. The writer makes draws; the architect paints with light; the musician scribes poems. 

Using a variety of widgets helps work out different artistic muscles. As we draw analogies across subjects, we improve our core craft. 

Said the Greek poet Archilochus: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” 

All the hedgehog knows how to do is protect itself with its spines. But the fox is more elastic — it can adapt to different conditions that enhance its chances to survive.

We permit our perspectives to shapeshift by opening the mind up to ubiquitous inspiration. Our imagination expands in so far as we stretch our palette. 

First, we collect and understand. Then we deduce. Only then can we return to mastering our core competency. 

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Arts Creativity Life & Philosophy

The archaeological dig of the self

A synchronization of mind thought, and people — symphonies boost enthusiasm, concentration, and memory power. Their confluence is the great harvester of human attention.

If you’re always polishing the car, you’ll never go anywhere to discover new things. If you’re always rushing, you’ll never reap the benefits earned through reflection.

The inner and outer worlds work together to stimulate the imagination.

Money and passion fail to make one rich and happy automatically. Creators are doers. And work demands all the scars.

Invest in yourself — spiritual and mental health — and see it a role to play the orchestrator of your own life.

Categories
Creativity Life & Philosophy

Thoughts are seeds

Examining the world, collecting artifacts, awaiting that sudden flash. 

To believe that epiphanies are a result of short-term thinking is a canard. Good ideas emerge from gathering string over long stretches of time. 

Do you think Isaac Newton discovered insight into gravity only after the apple dropped on his head? No, he’d been chewing on the concept during one of his numerous contemplative moods.  

Seeds of thought blossom into ideas

Whatever it is–a mental note, a scrawl on a napkin, a Pinterest pin, or bunches of index cards–the most important thing is to get your observations recorded. Hence, you can remember what’s interesting now and more easily recall it again, later. Memory favors double-recall.

Having an aggregation system where thoughts compound and grow as seeds to flowers is vital to the thinking process

Like a series of connected synapses storing up bytes of memory, building on top of ideas spurs on a curiosity that lends itself to an aliveness unheard of in the day to day numbness.

Persistent novelty keeps us awake. The fruit of creativity — curiosity — creates a beautiful cycle of discovery. 

Seeds merely planted but watered with attention, keep the brain tickled well enough.

Categories
Arts Creativity Writing

Creativity lies within

The quest of creativity is really the search for aliveness.

It is no wonder that when we spend the time to make and ship our craft, we are happier human beings.

To see and have any product resonate is icing on the cake. Few artists ever achieve wide acclaim for their work, even fewer prosper.

There’s no guarantee that the so-called “professional” writer or photographer achieves monetary success. Money is no arbiter, as Van Gogh can attest — he only sold one painting while he was alive and it was to his brother.

When we begin with the intention to please or entertain others, it’s no wonder the muse gives up on us. She demands honest work.

Creativity can be selfish act. We make what we want to see in the world, even if we don’t believe in the project at hand. It is within the practicing of creating, the maker basks in raw aliveness.

Originality is the pusher.

Categories
Creativity Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Writing

It’s the indecision that’s risky

In the absence of ideas, we’re lost floating at sea.

Weighed down in idea debt, a lack of action can have the same debilitating effect.

Inertia is the purported enemy. Just write the truest sentence already.

What works better is facing fear and proceeding right into it.

We keep our eyes on the prize and spend our time wisely, for the latter is never under your control. We remain undecided and fritter the seasons away at our own risk.

Born in the morning, jolted in the afternoon, and reset in the evening.

Intensely alive with a deliberate pulse — faith knows that even the wrong ideas fail successfully.