Categories
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.

Categories
Arts Productivity & Work Psychology Writing

There is a time for everything

giphy (48)
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
Arts Poetry

Mary Oliver: The poem gets written

Photograph by Molly Malone Cook 1964 from Our World by Mary Oliver

“It is 6am and I am working. I am absent-minded, reckless, heedless of social obligations etc. It is as it must be. The tire goes flat, and the tooth falls out, there will be a hundred meals without mustard. The poem gets written.”

Mary Oliver

Who needs the muse when you’ve got a proper habit?

Mary Oliver wrote over 15 poetry and essay collections over her writing career. Her prolific output rested on a simple rule of showing up and filling up the canvass every day.

But she was also jotting down notes all the time, out and about, in nature where she felt freest.

Oliver’s poetic vocation called her wherever she went, as she engulfed the world with an insane curiosity. Slow and deliberate, she let her notebooks bleed into the world.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Writing

Relaxed while working

The synchronicities tend to happen in our most relaxed moments, not when we’re stressing out about work or life.

Bothersome thoughts place a block on our ability to connect disparate ideas.

Unmoored from the monkey mind, we grant the synapses a passport to freedom.

In a state of flow, nothing is wanting. The pen can hardly keep up with the bicycle of impressions peddling through our heads.

Awake on our passions, always working to a place where we catch onto to things.

Categories
Writing

Everything goes in the queue

The queue is more of a scrapbook than a notebook. It’s a hopper of brain farts and observations brewing in all formats: text, images, video, and sound. It’s…

  • Where ideas get stored and intermix
  • Where content molds and takes shape
  • Where visions incubate until the timing is ripe
  • Where some concepts never the day of light

Your goal is to never let the queue go empty. You should always keep refreshing it with new content to help you sustain your thinking presence. The dull, the interesting, the ephemeral; it all goes into the Tumblr bin to age marvelously.

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

Field Notes

Take copious notes and frequently revisit them. In generating novelty, you’ll always be two steps ahead.

Categories
Books Creativity Quotes Writing

Ta-Nehisi Coates: made for the library, not the classroom

“I was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates