In a Perfect World, Far, Far Away…
The fantasy…to be important enough to be no longer beholden to email! In this alternative universe you aren’t hitting refresh for the next job offer or money-making opportunity, a party invite or chance to socialize, glued to the daily news because you need to know what is trending today. You are complete, whole, full, and focused on your project and bulletproof to distraction.
We are living in an age when we believe that we can “optimize” our way to anything – super performance, the cleanest diet, the most revolutionary exercise. We are in an aspirational age of tricks, hacks, tips, and epiphanies. If you are a person like me, with an adaptive mindset and endless curiosity, new information is full of the endless possibility of making things a little bit easier so I can accomplish more.
We are in the time of Marie Kondo and the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and Gretchen Rubin’s Better than Before. I am a slob who could do many things in my life better, and I am absolutely not knocking these important books. But as I stated in my previous post 5 Questions for Your Creative Practice in 2016, beyond living in a distraction-free fantasy world we all need to find our own ritual “secret sauce.” Every morning you have to punch through fear and resistance, and I believe that the more you know these two enemies, the more success you will have.
Find Your Secret Sauce
I spent the first week of December with the basic question, “What powers the me-machine?” The results are in:
Physical: Every day I made time for 30 minutes of exercise, I took my vitamins (I have been anemic on and off my entire life so iron is very important). I also began eating plant-based dinners in the evenings, which so far has made me feel more alert in the mornings. When the sun goes down I turn off and drift, I am a morning person.
Mental: I thought a lot about WHY. Why must I write, what do I need to say, why this and not something else? As they ask in acting class and at crime scenes, what is my motivation? I also checked in with myself every 30-ish minutes….what am I doing and do I want to continue. You can use a pomodoro app for this one. I also had huge success with what I will call appointment scheduling. Instead of making a list of things to do which looked like an unclimbable mountain, I would take things like “Christmas shopping” and actually schedule it into my calendar when I was not as mentally alert (ie. not during peak writing time). It actually stopped some of my wandering time-suck online. This also works for chores, do them when you are not at your most creative.
Spiritual: I cleaned and organized my office and as always it is an unearthing of things, layers of papers and articles of personal archaeology. Poems, notes, love letters, scraps. I took pictures and now they are on my phone and out of my way. I burnt sage in my office and other nooks and crannies, the smell is like a spiritual antiseptic for me.
Technology: Noise canceling headphones that I purchased on eBay for my honeymoon flight are a godsend. I flip the switch and there is a whoosh as the loud ambient noise is lowered. I tried the LiveScribe pen at a craft night with friends and we all agree it is magical, but I am not sure exactly how it fits into my creative process. I am also going to consolidate all of my “inspiration notes” into one place because keeping multiple lists makes me anxious. I am also extremely inspired by science writing so I subscribed to the weekly science edition of a few publications.
And literally, that is enough. All you need is a scaffolding and self-knowledge. Take the time if you can these last few weeks of 2015 and see if you can make some minor calibrations to your creativity engine. And as always, please contact me or write your suggestions below!