Summary: Creative slumps happen. The old ways of generating ideas aren’t working any more. A general malaise sets in. You wonder if you’ll ever be creative again. The solution? Try new ways to generate ideas. In this example, I’m putting aside my keyboard and picking up a pen and writing in my journal.
I don’t like redundant effort. From my programming background, I always try to figure out ways to automate processes. To me, the idea of writing something in a journal, and then transcribing it, to my computer, seems like wasted effort. Why not sit down at my computer and just type?
The problem is, the words aren’t just flowing. I have ideas, but something about this bright light on my WordPress screen shining back at me seems to limit me.
What to do?
I’ve given in. I’m now writing in a journal.
I’m listening to an audio book, “Leonardo Da Vinci” by Walter Isaacson. He describes Leonardo’s habit of carrying a journal with him wherever he went and he would make observations about the world, people, animals, objects, ideas and write them down in his journal. What is even more interesting is that because paper was so expensive in Leonardo’s era (1450 – 1520), he would write in every available space on the page (see examples here). So when you look at his journals (7,200 pages remain to this day), every part of the page was used, a scribble here, a drawing there, a new observation; his journals were living representations of his thought processes.
Most of his journal entries are just ideas. Very few ideas were actually created.
His journals were transcriptions of how Leonardo thought, and this is almost more interesting than his actual thoughts.
One interesting side note, because Leonardo was left handed, he wrote from right to left in reverse script so as not to smudge the ink. You can only read his journals by holding a mirror up to them.
So, with this inspiration, I picked up an old journal on my book shelf and noticed an entry I made, when I was inspired to watch less TV, and journal instead. Below is my entry from two years ago. I’ll transcribe it here, but a similar angst was affecting me then as it is now — How do I get more creative?
Once this blog post is done, I’ll set my keyboard aside, get a cup of Green Tea and just sit and journal. And, like Leonardo, I’ll carry this journal with me today and see what happens. It could be just a one day event, like it was on March 15, 2017 — “Beware the Ides of March”. But even one day, hopefully it will break me out of this Creative Slump.
3/15/17 part 1
Today I’m starting the practice of journaling. I’m trying to find activities that can replace my TV watching. I read some statistics that Americans watch 2.8 hours of TV per day. I do watch TV every day — perhaps not 3 hours per day, but I will keep track. Regardless, I need to do something more productive with my 2.8 hours per day. Yesterday I watched a Youtube video/webinar on Machine Learning. More and more I am convinced that humans are going to be replaced by automation/robots/A.I. wherever possible. What then do humans have to offer? Creativity, Critical Thinking, Complex Problem Solving, Associational Thinking, etc. Journaling is a way to develop these thoughtful, intuitive skills. I just need to write. Don’t self-edit. Don’t be critical of myself. Just let the words flow. And, don’t use a Sharpie to write in this journal, the ink bleeds through the page!
3/15/17 part 2
I used to have these really nice pens. They had a very fine tip and the ink flowed perfectly. Now I’m using a cheap give-away pen. Oh well. Be thankful for small things. At least I’m not writing on a cave wall. Perhaps life is about using the resources you do have and creating in spite of the limitations you face? I could complain about this pen and just give up or I could just push through and write.
3/15/17 part 3
Maybe creativity isn’t about the tool as much as it is about what is inside coming out. A way to let my InnSaei to speak into the world. Watch the movie, “InnSaei” to learn more about it, but basically InnSaei is an Icelandic word for Intuition and has 3 unique meanings:
- The Sea Within
- To See Within
- See Inside Out
This year I want to be more Intuitive. To let my Native Genius come out and express through Creativity and Productive Expressions.
Blending is the process of combining different source material into something creative and new. It’s about connections between things, perhaps disparate things.
3/15/17 part 4
So many thoughts in my head. How to go “deep” on just one of them? Reflection? Meditation? So many passing thoughts and ideas without Reflection, yet society unleashes information on us at hyper-speeds. Do I have time to Reflect and Ponder and Consider?
R-words that I like: Rapscallion and Rambunxious
So, there you have it. A look inside my brain from two years ago. I’m inspired to write and observe and reflect like Leonardo.
Technology can give us access to unlimited sources of information, but I’ve found can also direct us into automaton types of patterns of engagement with our devices.
It’s time for me to take a break from electronic visual and tactile interactions, and get back to something more basic — pen on paper. Let my inner Leonardo or InnSaei out!
And, once you’ve discovered your InnSaei, share it with others. Our Upskill Create Community is a place to start!
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