some notes on creativity

some notes on creativity

howdy there,

the other night I was attending a small SFSU event on the FOX lot. it was a small event where a few of the LA based alumni got to meet the new University President, Les Wong. which I have to say was pretty cool. you can tell that he is very excited about education and about growing the institution. hopefully I can continue being a part of that, through the alumni group and beyond.

SFSU Alum at Fox

towards the end of the evening one of the other guests asked if the night was “just starting” for my friends and I. to which I replied “I needed to go home and be creative.” she responded quite naturally with something along the lines of “you’ve got to grab it while you can.”

there’s a common belief that being creative requires inspiration. the tortured artist wanders through the city, goes for hikes, talks in coffee shops – then when INSPIRATION arrives rushes home and begins to paint like it’s the only thing that matters in the world. but as anyone who’s ever looked at a blank page or empty canvas can tell you…inspiration doesn’t always arrive when you want it to.

there’s a quote I really like about this:

“I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired at 9 o’ clock every morning.”
William Faulkner

just like you can train your body to run a marathon or spin multiple rotations with a board attached to your feet, you can train your mind to be creative. you can train yourself to snap into the “inspired” zone that leads to creativity.

for me a big part of this is being able to shut out the outside world. this can mean I first have to have to wash the dishes and pay bills, or call back that person who left a voicemail, or finish the edit I’m doing for a client. it can also be as simple as getting a cup of coffee and putting on my headphones.

sometimes when I sit down to write, I’ll just shut my eyes, listen to the music, and let my mind wander for a bit. I’ll let it go where ever it needs to. I’m free to dream …as long as it ISN’T about things like bills or girl problems. it doesn’t even need to be about a specific project, because it’s less about the content of the daydream and more that I AM dreaming about things outside my immediate reality. once I’ve left the cares of my world behind – then I’m free to write.

there are days this is easier than others. when I’m really excited about a project, I can just get right into it. it takes almost no time at all to switch tracks and send my brain where I want it to go. and there are days like today, when the responsibilities of being a tax paying, employment seeking, single adult weigh on a person enough that they write a blog about dealing with those things and still finding the mental space to be creative. (haha. it’s funny cause it’s true.) honestly that’s one of the great things about writing regularly in a blog, it forces me to think out and communicate ideas, but with a little lower stakes that other writing.

but above all, getting your brain to function in a creative way at a moment’s notice requires a lot of work. you need to put in the time, day after day, week after week, and year after year. heck, even decade after decade. just as one does not become a master carpenter by strapping on a tool belt, one does not become a writer by turning on a laptop.


even when you don’t feel “inspired.”

so what about y’all? do any of you have any tricks or techniques you use to settle in and get writing or painting or composing music?

oh and one last PRO-TIP: always turn off facebook, instant messenger, your phone, email, the tv, twitter, etc. to truly disconnect.


p.s. next week I hope to have my 2011 “Top 10” list for you. the list is pretty much set, I just need to go through and write a bit about each item and get some pictures picked out.

1 Comment
  • Chris
    Posted at 23:48h, 18 January Reply

    I couldnt agree more that w/ practice and relaxation comes the most creativity/inspiration. For me whenever i hit a roadblock instead of mulling over it, i just move on to something else–washing the dishes, going to the gym, masturbating, etc. then come back to it when i feel like it.
    dont know if thats the best way to deal but it is what it is.

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