Tag: creativity

Getting Past Your Doubts to Finish

My main, aka longer form project that I am working on right now is about baby sleep, or more like surviving it when you have the most horrible sleeper on the block.

I’m passing through the middle, where I start to think, I think it’s getting boring? Who is going to want to read this anyway?

My thought process of hanging in there goes something like, I’m trying to get it out of my system, clear my mental desk, and keep the pipeline going. Besides, I do have a few things to say about the topic, which is why I stuck with it so far.

Sharing a couple of sources that I feel much comfort from in this state:

This diagram from Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon (stolen from Maureen McHugh) that tells me that’s the way it usually is.

And this quote from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

Even if you made a truly rotten piece of art, it may be a necessary stepping-stone to your next work. Art matures spasmodically and requires ugly-duckling growth stages.

And yes, you do learn from actual writing and finishing. More than from any reading or learning about various advice and tips.

Side Projects as Creative Problem Solving

There are times when I get sidetracked to a totally new or long forgotten interest. I become quite consumed with it. At least for awhile I act like I just might make a plunge into this totally new field. It may be why neither myself or anyone else around me could make any sense of what I’m supposed to do. I finally realized though, it just may be my way of solving or enduring through an obstacle. Following are some phases that I went through and what I think they were attempting to solve.

1. Gardening and the Initial Creative Process

Gardening teaches patience for due time for new life forming. You may doubt the potential of a seed invisible under ground, but most of the time, with patience and tending, it eventually grows, blooms, and becomes whatever it was meant to be. At the difficult point in the beginning of a creative process where you can’t see where you’re headed, gardening was at once a distraction and a concrete reminder of the process of making something new.

2. Cooking and Writing

Writing I feel is quite close to cooking. Perhaps that’s why quite a few writers cook or bake. The material for writing: love, hurt, disappointment, the cycle of life, the pursuit of dreams, is shared by most people. Just like the many common food ingredients: meats, fish, vegetables, grains, herbs and spices. What each person makes of it though, is what makes all the difference. Depending on the ingredient, you could enjoy it raw, or you may go through more and more elaborate cooking processes. Elaborate cooking may impress people, but if the ingredient is of exceptionally high quality, simpler cooking may be the better choice.

3. Painting and Recording

Music recording, especially with today’s technology is similar to painting. Each different sound is like a different color that you use to create the soundscape. When I was stuck and not making progress because I got overwhelmed by all the technicalities, painting gave me a hands on way of thinking about this. And gave me some possible ideas to overcome the obstacles in getting started and making progress.

4. Jigsaw Puzzles and Multiple Projects

When you have varied interests and many projects that you dabble in it can be easy to get discouraged and wonder if something is wrong with you. Jigsaw puzzles are a great reminder that while each piece on its own does not seem to make a lot of sense, all those pieces will eventually come together into a complex whole.

Why so much Advice on Creativity seem to Contradict Each Other

Or Innovation or Productivity for that matter

I found myself at a place where I’m driven by an urge to make something but not having allowed myself to for so long, had no idea how to get started. Like trying to move a cart stuck firmly in the mud. So much more effort than with a cart already in motion on the road. Desperate for some help I read up on all the books and articles on creativity and productivity that I could get my hands on. Maybe you are at this place too and that is what lead you to read this article.

The bad news is a lot of the advice and help out there start contradicting each other confusing you further. The good news is there is an answer. It’s just not the same for everyone.

Creative process or innovation in any field requires contradicting elements. You need to have expertise but also retain the ability to see things with fresh eyes. You need to be able to perform and communicate with others but also work long hours alone. Research tells us the most effective persons are complex multiplicities, for example both masculine and feminine. Not androgynous, rather they harbor both extremes at once.

Our brains have different modes of operation. And depending on what it does naturally, the advice most helpful to you will differ. Someone who automatically absorbs information around them, to the extent of having trouble filtering out unwanted stimuli, they need help with removing distractions and focusing. It would be the opposite for someone who is naturally driven towards a single track and has trouble noticing tangential details. They need the advice to wander.

It is not trying to always develop the weaker, less natural side over your dominant mode. Rather setting aside a portion of your time to give your weaker side a conscious boost so that you will have within you both extremes.

And it will take some time. As Aristotle said, you need to go on a journey of getting to know yourself first. Perhaps this will never end, and maybe that is a good thing.

References:

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention)

Shelley Carson (Your Creative Brain)

First Post

It took a decade to finally write this post.

My first inkling that I wanted to write was more than a decade before that.

So what happened?

Why was I stuck for years, even decades?

I think I finally have a clue and would like to try and share what I’m learning more openly.  I’m sure there are others like me, who need to dig deeper than most to free themselves from the yoke of forced silence.