Enhancing The Creative Process
I recently emailed a client to ask how she was doing with her upcoming deadline. She replied by sending the following image:
The source for this image and many other original graphics that reflect a similar sensibility and dark humor is http://www.ToothpasteForDinner.com. This image is used with their permission. I think the image brilliantly captures a very real experience.
The creative process — whether invoked to write a grant, solve an engineering problem, or deal with a difficult person — is an excitable beast. It uses different parts of our brain than the usual task-list, taking-care-of-business mode does, and requires a different kind of care. If you treat your orchid plant the same way you treat your schefflera, at least one of them will not flourish. Same with the creative process — it needs to be handled in a way that’s specific to IT. It’s much more of a diva than our workhorse routines are. It’s temperamental, easily dissed, and will shut itself down in a heartbeat if it’s mistreated. But with proper care, it can flourish.
ONE element of care that can enhance your creative process is to free up some bandwidth: make some space for it. That means getting some things off your plate. Here are some classic ways to get items off your to-do list:
- DO. Find the short and simple items and just get them done. Get your car inspected, tell Ed you won’t be at his meeting, do your backup.
- DELEGATE. Outsource some of the tasks: find someone else to do them. Cajole, beg, barter, influence, hire, call in favors, leverage your authority, whatever it takes.
- DELAY. Schedule the item into your calendar for a month from now, at which time you will consider doing it. Note: this is not the same as procrastinating.
- DITCH. Admit that it’s not happening, get over it, and cross it off the list. For example: re-organizing your PowerPoint slides.
The key thing in freeing up bandwidth is to not get so caught up in it that you never get around to addressing the original creative challenge! I have learned this about myself: I’m much more in my comfort zone when I’m in work-horse mode: do do do do do. I am easily hijacked by my all-important to-do list and my big bold brassy bossy executive function. I have to remind myself that my working-dog mentality reports to me, not vice-versa — I am its boss! Once I get some tasks off my list and some bandwidth freed up, it’s time to return to the creative process.
There are many other things you can do to support your creative process, but this is a crucial one.
Do you think Einstein did his own taxes?