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Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

The two essential phases in the creative process

There are two essential phases in the creative process.

The spontaneous phase is where ideas sprout, unintentionally and seemingly out of nowhere. Everything interesting goes in the hopper, including the slightest observation, things seen, imagined, overheard, or misheard.

Whether it’s a notebook or your phone when you’re gathering string, the medium is less important than recording.

“I’m not writing it down to remember it later,
I’m writing it down to remember it now.”

Field Notes

The best notebook is the one you have with you. But seeing the world starts with being open to the repetition of arbitrary stimulus and its messy upshot: discovery.

The revision phase is where ideas get pieced together like a puzzle.

You go through all your notes, images, sketches, etc. for the purposes of synthesizing concepts and tossing away others.

When you start to piece together artifacts, revelations seems to arise out of epiphany. But there is no such thing as immediate discovery — such is the aggregation of everything we learned along the way.

The two-fold creative process never changes so it’ll always be there to fall back on if and when you feel stuck. First, we collect, and then we deduce.

The more you practice the creative process the better you get at connecting ideas and turning them into reality.

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Arts Productivity & Work Psychology Writing

There is a time for everything

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gif by John Corsi

The time you spend away from your task still qualifies as work. That includes doing the dishes, running errands, and taking care of the kids—whatever responsibilities you think to impede your central occupation contribute to its success.

British novelist Jon McGregor gives a good example of how he manages his writing despite making time for everything from Tweeting to taking care of his children.

“I rarely manage a whole unbroken day at the desk. And it can be frustrating, sometimes. Once or twice a year I manage to get away somewhere and live like a hermit for a week, eating and sleeping next to a desk and talking to no one and getting a lot of work done. Imagine if I could work like that all the time, I think, then. Think how productive I’d be! But if my life was always like that, I suspect I’d have very little to write about.”

Locking yourself away in isolation is a forlorn attempt to escape all that matters. Patterns can backfire, especially when it comes to creativity which thrives on observation and sudden randomness.

There is a time for everything

While productivity can be messy, time away from work is not squandered time. Instead, it is spent accumulating experiences and visualizing how the ideas you’re chewing on will all come to focus when you sit down in and commit to the day ahead.

The discipline of work is just as necessary as the chaotic daily tasks of life. In fact, the best things in life often disrupt it, forcing you to rethink priorities and see how it all connects.

Contrary to popular opinion, busyness is not a badge of honor. Life seeds all the ideas.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Active by default

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We sleep on it, take cold showers, and jog it out. We give the various ingredients time to simmer.

We are always working, whether it’s by gathering string or by waiting for the neurons and the synapses to wire and fire together.

The conscious mind applies the deliberate practice while the subconscious does the rest. Says writer and illustrator Maira Kalman, “wonderful things happen when your brain is empty.” That is the magic of thinking without thinking.

The kernel of an idea blooms within all the cerebral apps within. But that’s just the start.

Once one idea stops working, we go through the learning process all over again.

“It is amateurs who have one big bright beautiful idea that they can never abandon. Professionals know that they have to produce theory after theory before they are likely to hit the jackpot.”

Francis Crick
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Productivity & Work

Doing more begets more productivity

Busy people get more done. Having multiple priorities creates a state of flow.

We worry more when we give too much form to the unknown.

The most productive days are those in which we go immediately into action, en medias res, with a to-do list baked in our head.

Of course, busyness is not a badge to wear either.

If we’re going to chase something, it better be something we enjoy. Passion helps absolves the grind.

Doing meaningful work centers us. But for that, we must also take responsibility and choose ourselves.

Own the confidence to discover and resolve anything by staying busy.

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Arts Creativity Productivity & Work Writing

Material to hone

It starts with something to play with. Then it builds into an enormous flower of connections and surprises.

The problem isn’t speeding up — it’s calming down the circuits of the brain that are overworked and over-wired.

A prompt here, a rough sentence there, stock phrases, we inject certainty onto the page. But the dominance comes later through the editing itself.

Once we loosen up the control and do the work, we realize that perfection never meets the maker with great exactness. Everything is at first messy, as it should be.

The hardest part is calming down enough to see it out.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

The value of pushy mothers

The extra push. It can come from within, but it also helps to hear it from outside influences.

Pushy moms are more likely to build a successful kid. Being annoyed is good for you.

It is later on that you’ll steer your own life and develop the habit of pushing yourself.

The lessons hatch in your head, inculcating an operating system that values independence and hope.

From parts to wholes and back again, the most important thing is to follow through in an effort to inspect the self and all the world’s knowledge.