The Secret of Creativity ~ Part Eight
FREEDOM INHIBITS CREATIVITY.
There is nothing like a deadline to help get you focused. Most of us need some kind of timescale or deadlines to work to. Can you remember back when you were back at school, college or university? Think back to when you had a piece of work or an essay to complete? Many of us may have tended to leave starting it to the very last minute. Only beginning it a couple of days before the actual dead-line date. I was very much like this. Because I knew I had to get it done, I would suddenly spring into action. Having to work like a dog to get it done, but amazing myself with what I could create in such a short space of time. It’s like I needed the deadline to propel me forward. To get me fired up and motivated. Otherwise, without a deadline dangerously looming I would so easily have kept saying, I will start tomorrow, and then tomorrow may have never come!
For writing these series of blog posts, which were actually meant to be a E-book called The Secrets of Creativity, I needed a timescale, and I had to give myself a date when I wanted it to be completed by. I’m certain that if I hadn’t have given the E-book a time-limit, a date that I wanted to have completed it by it would have stretched out indefinitely. I certainly wouldn’t have completed it as quickly as I did.
I have always thought that for creativity to really flourish there needs to be a degree of freedom to allow for the ideas to unfold and emerge. Too much freedom can actually cull creativity. It’s a strange paradox.
Our creativity needs some perimeters to work within.
Most people need a deadline to work towards. Deadlines help them channel their energies and focus. A limited amount of time given allows the mind to really go for it, keep on task, and pull out the superhuman powers that we all seem to be able to conjure up when our back is up against the wall. We can all surprise ourselves with how much we are capable of doing and creating when we really discipline and strengthen our minds. Sometimes the less time we actually allow ourselves for an activity, the easier it can be for us to tap into our natural flow of creativity. If there is no finish line in sight, we lose sight of our goal, and lose the momentum that is needed to propel us forward towards completion.
A task that could take 1 hour, if we really got down to it, open-ended, could stretch out over a few days. We may stop and start. Get distracted, go off task and end up doing something, anything which is totally unrelated. I am a bugger for doing this! We get no where fast.
Set a time limit. Give yourself a deadline to work to. Like I said, if hadn’t have actually set myself a deadline, I would still be writng this ebook now. Its amazing how the mind can suddenly click into forward gear when it knows it has to produce something by a certain time or date!
The interesting thing about working within time constraints is it really does focus the mind. It blocks out all the other distractions, the excuses, the I’m not been in the mood today, the internal chatter which can be so hard to turn-off.
To switch on our creativity we often need a sense of urgency.
Timed activities: Allow yourself a limited amount of time to do an activity, whether this is a piece of writing, art, coming up with ideas and solutions to a problem or issue. For instance, if you are wanting to come with lots of ideas have a go at doing a timed Cluster Activity – which is basically very similar to the old fashioned Brainstorm activity before the PC Police came along! Set a timer, I use my mobile phone. I normally set a time-limit of up to 20 minutes. Anything up to 20 minutes is a manageable amount of time for most people to get there head down and focus on that one thing without stopping or getting too distracted. I think everyone can find a spare 10/ 15 minutes out of there day, regardless of how busy they might be to do this! I have started doing this on a morning when I write my morning pages (Julia Cameron ~ The Artist Way. Every morning after I have done the usual things you need to do when you first wake up, I set the timer on my phone for 20 minutes and write. I write whatever comes into my head. This might be about what happened the day before, it might be about something that I have going on for me at that current time, maybe something that is playing on my mind. There are no rights or wrongs, no pressure to sound intelligent, because no bugger else is ever going to read them (not till I die anyhow!)
By doing this as a timed activity it makes it feel doable. 20 minutes is a manageable amount of time. I can write for 20 minutes without feeling overwhelmed. I know that in no time at all the beautiful harp sound will soon ring out, and my time will be up. Easy. No pressure.
if you haven’t done timed-activities before I think you may be surprised at how much you can create and produce when you really focus, in such a short space of time. You may also be taken aback by the quality of your ideas and thoughts. The trick is to not to stop & think.
Just do it, as the Nike advert says.
Get into the ZONE. If you start to lose it, just remind yourself it’s only for 20 minutes, 20 minutes will fly by. It really is a do-able amount of time to give the task your undivided attention.
Create your own deadlines. Why not get together with a like-minded friend or colleague. Set some deadlines and a date when you plan to have what you want to do completed. Just the process of telling someone else should help spur you on, very few of us like to loose face. We don’t want to look like someone who is all talk and can’t deliver! Tell people about your creative plans and projects. This in itself will act as a catalyst for action.
Think of things which will act as a outside motivator.
Write it down. Its the usual goal setting activity that many of you will be familiar with. There has been lots of research done though about the effectiveness of writing down what you want to do, and being very specific and clear about when it will be done by and how you will do it.