Sunday, May 15, 2011

Monday Morning: Managing Creativity

Some of my favorite books

Creativity comes in waves for me. I don't think anyone is feeling at the top of their game all the time, but I know I don't. Learning to manage the surges of creative power and the inevitable plateaus that follow seems to me to be the hallmark of the most prolific minds.

I'm still relatively new at this whole game so I'm learning to manage those plateau's. EVen something as simple as this little blog takes heaps and heaps (and heaps) of creative energy. Right when I seem to be clipping along, I'll have a week where I can hardly get a word down into the blank screen in front of me. I have the topics swirling in my head I just can't figure out how to write, to compose my photographs, to do my thing.

Finding Creativity

mt.rainier clouds
The weather does not need to be great to find inspiration outside. In fact often it's best if it's not.
Clearly my most reliable source of creativity in my life is in the outdoors. Here especially in the American West our backyards are littered with gems of natural beauty that only the truly jaded would have the power to reject. A day spent in the redwoods, among peaks and granite domes, resting by a lake or sitting by a creek is almost always enough to get my brain relaxed and feeling restored.

Still I'm a multi-dimensional person, and my life does not revolve around the outdoors even if this blog does. Further with a busy schedule I don't always have a chance to get outdoors to rejuvenate myself.

Other Ways I Find Creative Inspiration

  • Meditation - I mostly meditate at home, at least once a week for a half an hour or so I need to sit down and clear my mind. Because we live near a busy road I usually need to flip on something like Tibetan Bells. Sometimes I'll listen to something more engaging like Sigur Ros but that's rare (usually I find it distracting).
  • Reading - I'm inspired by good writing. Jack Kerouac is my personal favorite, but there are many, many others. I've never found a blog that inspires me quite like a good book. I like to read before bed, but I get the most out of it if I take some time to read in the afternoon.
  • Photography - Since I was 17 and first picked up a SLR camera I've loved photography, making it or viewing it. I find the work of G. Dan Mitchell a particularly endless well of inspiration.
  • A Glass of Wine - I don't think it has anything to do with the alcohol but something about sitting down at my desk here with the windows open next to a glass of good wine really gets me in the mood to write in a way that even a cold beer can't seem to match.
  • Music - Jazz is my go to. About half the blogs here have been written with Thelonious Monk in the background. That or the blues, regardless of my particular mood. For fun I mostly listen to Indie Rock, but I seldom find it particularly inspiring.

Avoiding Creativity

Other times I simply avoid creative writing by churning out something formulaic. Gear is particularly easy to write about like this because I can still write with some authority without feeling a creative fire. Gear is easy, and I'll be the first to admit it's a crutch. It takes no real insight to write how-to's either. I'm seldom if ever proud of these posts. They're just my way of buying time. I try and make them always at least entertaining.

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