September 29, 2010
We don’t know where our ideas come from – but we know they don’t come from our laptops.
— John Cleese
When my husband quit his job at the end of August, I had a misguided belief that I would be able to concentrate full-time on creating the business I dared to dream about. I would write prolifically, connect with power brokers, advocate for a movement towards creative living & mindful spending, and generally do great things with my time & energy because I could concentrate.
But concentration isn’t very good for creativity.
If you‚ are racing around all day, ticking things off a list, looking at your watch, making phone calls and generally just keeping all the balls in the air, you are not going to have any creative ideas.
— John Cleese
Concentration – even focused, productive work – doesn’t push us, it doesn’t make us more confident, it doesn’t stretch our ideas and play with our minds. It kind of shuts us down.
Last week, I had a bit of a breakthrough: I will not be creative & influential & wealthy & prolific sitting in front of my laptop for 12 hours a day.
Creativity requires a kind of “oasis” as Mr. Cleese puts it.
My creative oasis is an evening walk. Immediately after Lola goes to bed, I download the latest Fresh Air podcast, don a pair of shoes fit for a 20 minute walk, and exit through the front door. My iPhone connects me to a greater world as my feet connect with the uneven sidewalks.
When I come home, I don’t reach for my laptop again. I reach for a stack of Moleskines that hold rough drafts and notes. I might draft 3 posts from ideas that struck me during my walk. I’ll finish them off in the morning when my mind is again fresh. Or they may just sit and wait for when they’re needed.
We spend so much time wishing & hoping for more time, more concentration, a more conscious approach to what we want to create. But I’m with John Cleese, part of my work – in fact, the part that creates the most meaningful results – requires shutting down, creating space, freeing yourself from the demands productivity. It requires sleep. It requires selfcare.
These are the things I absolutely must prioritize to be as creative as possible (read: successful & satisfied).
Bold creativity – the kind that great ideas come from – requires work that doesn’t feel so much like work: the acceptance that beautiful things come from a place that we can’t control.
If I want to truly increase my influence & output, it’s time to honor my creativity oasis. I hope you will too.