Friday, 30 April 2010
doing doing doing
Maisel's kind of creativity can be fiendishly productive. If you're doing, doing, doing, focussed for hours and days and weeks, all sorts of things start to appear.
I found academic work like that. The more I thought, and read, and wrote, the more ideas appeared. Sometimes they came at a speed I could hardly keep up with. Concentration is easy for me, if I'm interested; the problem is remembering to stop. And yet, despite the endless stream of emerging ideas and questions that my fiendish activity generated, it was when I did stop - to go for a walk, to finish for the day - that the really interesting connections emerged. This isn't news, I know. You probably have a pad and pencil by your bed for just such moments.
One of the things that interests me now is the balance between the two. If the most interesting ideas emerged when I backed off, why didn't I back off more? Why did I tire myself out engaging, bringing different ideas into contact with each other, letting words keep coming out onto the screen, if I would have had even better ideas if I'd walked away?? Perhaps those colleagues of mine, the ones who manage to do all the things I could never seem to fit in, had learnt this art....
It's as if all the time you're trying to make things happen with your conscious mind, trying so hard to create conditions that will result in novel appearances, there's a simultaneous, but different, process going on beneath the level of your conscious awareness, which you have no access to. The processes that are going on at this other level are effortless. They're like a natural law, like the tide. Or perhaps more like an ant colony - constantly moving, adjusting, processing, producing, shifting, responding. If you can get out of your own way, it seems you can sometimes create a little channel from this level, up, out, away from itself. If you're lucky, into your conscious world. Onto your page.
Someone commented recently on the amount of effort that must have gone into creating thinkpic. That's the weird thing. It was no effort at all. It just appeared.