How fitting. I found myself mentally blocked when attempting to write about productivity and creativity. It’s not a block as in the romanticized and pop-culture concept, it’s just the way I have always functioned as a creative. I can’t write until I am ready. I can’t force myself to create if I’m not there yet. I like to let thoughts simmer and mentally play with multiple ideas in my head until I have, in my mind, an idea of the first version of the final form of what I would like to express. This means that when I write, I write my first recension...as in it’s an edited version of what I have in my mind. There is no rough that gets edited into a final draft. For example, I think about the sentence I am writing and formulate it as exactly what I would like to say and not a rough idea that I will continue working on. Which means that when I am ready to work I can write fast as my ideas are clear, succinct and ready to go.
The struggle to figure out my creative process
In art school the type of process I described above was considered the worst creative process (I was told) because there was nothing to show for the process. Many of my tutors asked me if I had plucked ideas from thin air but I had to explain to them that their idea of creatives, creativity, the creative process and creativity and production was one-dimensional. Writing down or sketching all my ideas down gave me anxiety. It didn’t show my process because it wasn’t my process. It was me trying to work according to their rules which inevitably hindered my creativity because I was focusing my time and energy trying to figure out a method that wasn’t mine, leading to less time and focus on what I wanted to produce.
In contrast to this is a friend of mine who can create like breathing. This means that our days look very different. I will go long periods (sometimes days) without a creative output while this friend works long periods in one day getting all of their creative steam out (the tutors loved him).
What I learned about my process
I am an information based creative. This means that until I have not gathered all the information I need into the mental basket from which I will produce the creative sauce out of, I will not work. And I mean a pen will not meet a paper, these fingers will not type nor will I even doodle an idea. I need information first, I need to process it second and then I play with multiple ideas in my mind that I will simmer and simmer and simmer until finally the sauce of creativity is cooked just right for an idea to be written, drawn, made--basically realized. Information gathering can come in the shape of actual reading research, simple observation or going through the experience myself, this is why it takes me a while to do this step. My point is, however, that I have identified what type of creative I am and have established a process that I am comfortable with.
My process is in no way perfect, but its MY process nevertheless
I am not saying my process is perfect because it’s a daunting process. It’s one that feels unproductive for a period of time because you have nothing to show. It’s also one that can keep me from realizing a lot of the ideas that I have in my head for a number of reasons. It can be demoralizing in that sense. I use to paint--a lot--and I haven’t painted for nearly years now due to a lack of something to say. Neither will I just pick up a paintbrush and go for it hoping something will trigger my creativity--well, because, as you know, my creativity doesn’t work that way. That would just result in frustration and insecurity as none of those on-the-whim-paintings will be at the level at which I am used to producing and expressing. So I get stuck, a lot to say, but not ready to say it.
What does all this mean for you?
So here I sit, staring at the blank word document and the annoying flashing cursor that weighs heavily on my mind. The very same mind that is not able to scramble up my ideas into the output I would like. What I do know is what I would like to tell you. The point of this rant that has been elaborated into a blogpost is this: figure out what type of creative you are and according to that maximize your productivity. Don’t let those romanticized Hollywood movies or pop-culture stereotypes fool you into believing that there is only one type of creative and a single way to be productive because that’s simply not true.
At the end of the day this world is full of infinite possibilities. I like to believe that this world is a place that produces creatives such as Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Elizabeth Gilbert and Jillian Harris, who, as creatives, have different approaches to their creativity and productivity and have achieved success in their own right. The point of creativity is to be divergent, it is to be different, to offer unseen solutions and push old concepts into the new, so why would you spend your energy on becoming a type of creative you are not and not on developing the creative you are to the full potential?
Ask yourself the questions provided on the printable questionnaire by clicking below, and become more aware of the type of creative you are and in doing so figure out how to maximize your creativity.