Mix, Mingle and Muddling My Way Towards the Perfect Creative Compound.
In the quest for a more pure and flowing sense of creativity I have been mostly doing the following; getting up early at set times for a few weeks and then adjusting, doing incremental sets of push-ups before taking a shower, taking increasingly cold showers daily in winter or summer, do nothing for a strict ten minutes when I first sit down at my desk, then read a few pages of a novel before starting work, go for an hours bike ride during my workday (instead of after-hours), dedicate early mornings to side projects, don’t read emails until 11am, don’t drink alcohol during the week, eat lunch no later than 11.30am and so it goes. I am aware that this reads like I sit naked and hungry at my desk, although I do get dressed and eat breakfast as part of my daily routine.
Some of those things might seem like common sense — not drinking during the week and eating and sleeping at set times — but consistently doing them has a massive positive impact on how the day begins, unfolds and ultimately ends. Other elements of the mix may be a little ‘faddy’, but there is also great benefit in a ‘fad’ as they always teach me what-not-to-do — getting up super early was great for about six months, then it suddenly wasn’t — or indeed lead me to other ideas on how certain aspects of my day may need to be tweaked all in the interests of keeping a dynamic flow throughout the day.
The things that have become an integral part of the process — as listed above — all make me feel that some sort of progress is being made in bringing into focus a more vital way of working. The outcome of doing these things is not necessarily measurable in statistical terms, but are definitely quantifiable in terms of a heightened sense of well-being and focus.
I did think that such an exciting array of variables might need a system of review, a way to look at how I might measure the ingredients in the mix. Self-appraisal has never been my strong point and so had become a sticking point in my understanding of where I was at, where I am now and where I want to be tomorrow. It’s not so much the review per se, more to do with struggling to find a unit of measurement to appraise this daily mash-up.
I realised that the mash-up is not the main ingredient of the day — but the seasoning that adds a certain creative piquancy — creative development is the focus. My endeavours to understand more about my creative potential is to review by doing. Doing these things in a timely and well-balanced way achieves insight by revealing what makes today better, or worse than yesterday and how tomorrow can be better. These things do not take up vast swathes of time, but relatively small chunks that become the building blocks to the best possible day both in terms of creativity and productivity. The best kind of progress for me is one based on a process that can be regularly adjusted according to the impact it has on work, life and the day-to-day.
The mix, modified on a monthly, weekly, daily and sometimes hourly basis doesn’t necessarily help the quest for a system of review, but the changing mix is the key to my own development as a broader creative thinker. My method of appraisal is now based on how I regularly change or introduce new stimuli into the equation. If I am not periodically changing or adding, I am no longer engaged in dynamic learning. For example; sit in silence for ten minutes, read for ten minutes and then starting work functions brilliantly in creating the correct mindset for creativity. It resets my mind, I then feed it with the written word which more often than not results in some impressive (to me at the very least) output that I would never have arrived at. I would not have travelled down these creative avenues if I’d just sat at my desk first thing in the morning and started ‘being creative’ from the get-go. If the day comes when that particular ménage à trois no longer works, then I can change it. If I am not changing, I am not inspired, gone are the days when I used to feel that I had failed because I hadn’t kept up one of my ‘fads’.
The mish-mash of actions, processes and activities sometimes does result in a feeling of dissolution as to why I haven’t achieved a higher state of creative utopia. The fact that I am even striving for this ‘perfect’ state means I am entirely missing the point. The very fact that I can do these things and change them at will counts for everything. I am choosing to change things to keep the creative energy flowing. Not change for the sake of it, but adjust to inspire and feed the process. This brings about a catalytic series of actions which impacts the next, and so on.
I certainly wouldn’t still be writing these articles if the chain reaction of activities I tried out hadn’t brought me here. Although I do sometimes need to be reminded that the trying out of new things, whether they work or not is the core of this thing we call ‘creativity’.
Fallibility is one of my most beloved human traits, something to be embraced — it’s an essential ingredient for creative adventure and provides the kind of insight that can only be achieved by doing. Regular adjustment is the thing that keeps me progressing — the adjustment process needs to be the constant — towards a more open and enlightened way of working. I embrace the flux.
I always saw change as something exclusive to long periods based on a need for change. My ‘system’ is based on constant and relentless adjustment, it’s the tweaks that make all the difference. It is logical to me that change should be incremental, allowing tweaks, adjustments and regular review.
The above could be described as a dynamic mess, maybe there does need to be some kind of statistical data to measure progress? Having said that all creativity lies in what we don’t know, as opposed to what we do.