The act of creating anything is almost like being on drugs.
Technically, that analogy’s actually not far off. Whether it’s writing or painting murals on Strathmore with your penis that’s covered in impeccably blended acrylic shades – creating doesn’t happen by some light switch we cognitively clap on and off. I think anyone in that sort of field “knows” it – yet fights that fact the moment that the biology their genius is a slave to rebels against them. This might be because they’re tired or distracted by their own thoughts. Then again, sometimes it’s also to do with phone calls, text messages, or those of you stuck in an office (you poor dear lambs) with meetings and managers.
Each of these things are talent assassins.
Aborting brilliance before it even has a chance to hatch.
I get asked this paraphrased, less euphemistically arranged inquiry all the time:
“Why can’t you just drop everything and address my insignificant needs and then go right back to your work?” I refuse to hashtag this under #creativepeopleproblems or even suggest that these people aren’t creative. They are – they just prefer not to create because they either think they can’t or tried once and realized it involves delving into an intimate interaction with your subconsciousness. Which can be a terrifying Dante’s inferno, admittedly. And should one choose to brazenly spelunk into that abyss, the distractions either need to be non-existent or conducive to your process (white noise, a supplemental conversation about what you’re creating, maybe music). People who don’t (not people who can’t) create, much less create as a means of income, have challenge with recognizing that mining stuff outta your mind has at least two major obstacles: concern about not reaching the goal or deadline (financial fears) and interruptions (phone calls, progress checks, and so on). If you can overcome these things for a few hours, it gives you a chance to transform into another otherworldly creature whose sole function is to transmute art from the ether to everyone else’s senses.
Any breaks from that flow are so brainfully painful, they make me hate whoever caused them.
That’s why, when I stumbled upon this TED talk the other day, I enjoyed the overall message. It confirms what I already know, yes. But it’s just nice to hear someone else say it. Especially someone with a microphone. And a stage. And who looks like he’s on Bolivian marching powder.
Even though I personally don’t work in an office, the bits about the creative process happening in waves and stages and the part about the “voluntary” distractions all still resonated deep in my think meat. Equally so, did that suggestion about a need for a few hours of talking to exactly zero people while you get shiz done. Interestingly, even when we’re alone, it’s easy to fall into this “not getting work done at work” for the obvi reason: my sanctuary doubles as my office (#homeworkerproblems #noregrets). So, it’s easy to let these voluntary distractions start to feel passive because without the prospect of a slave driving manager to light a fire under your ass, you can start to think, “Well, I’ll have the rest of the day to get this done… Maybe I’ll eat a bowl of fruit instead. Catch up on bills. Take a jog. Let my dog try writing – see if talent runs in the family.” Even someone like myself who broke up with her television set months ago (she’s not taking it well), can find plenty’a other constructive-but-not-money-constructive distractions to time waste at home.
So, if nada else, this talk raised a bit o’ self-awareness about that and taught me something. I’ve made, drawn, sketched, and written lots of fun stuff in my life – but not nearly as much or of as high a quality as it could be. Thus, mayhaps the next thing I need to “create” should be a PSA for my window in the day of “don’t fckking bother me; I’m riding the writing dragon”.
So I can shoot up my own self-educed state of altered consciousness in peace.
The only kinda drug binge that’s ever paid the bills.