Many of us make the mistake of turning our focus to lists of highly structured goals in the new year. And often when we share them with others, we conflate our anticipation and discussion for change with actual change. Instead of approaching 2015 with a list of resolutions and to-dos, try starting it off by doing nothing.
A difficult concept for those in our laborious and demanding industry, but this liminal time is a great opportunity to rethink our creative craft. We don’t often get opportunities to settle into the terrains of our minds, relax and daydream, or step back and ponder how we ply our trade.
But we must.
For one, the idea that long days and nights will fuel our creative selves is simply not true. On the contrary, we must recede into our brains and engage the senses. Because, whether you’re daydreaming, reading or listening to music, a relaxed and diffused mind reinvigorates creativity.
For creators of every stripe, it’s an always-looping process of doing work and then stepping back to prime the pump, so to speak, and starting all over again; it’s how we re-acquaint our talents with our profession.
The good news is, you can start 2015 by creating an atmosphere of productivity and energy, bringing vigor and awareness to your work. So, keep some of the following in mind as you clear out your calendar.
First, you have to fully appreciate the value of doing nothing for your creative work. Most artists visualize their creative preparation as “time out of time,” such as being out of sync with schedules, offices, obligations, phones, or the demands of our narrowly focused attention. Writer Don DeLillo describes this as transitioning into a new world. Ancient philosopher Plato so revered the time for creativity and thinking that he thought artists and philosophers shouldn’t be attached to any form of work because it took them away from contemplating “the good life.”
Writer Henry Miller thoroughly plotted his time spent prepping to work. He scheduled time in cafes, chats with friends and even booked himself solo explorations of whichever city he happened to be visiting. Time to doodle, draw graphs, diagrams and charts were ways Miller relaxed his mind to broaden his perspective and ease back into the work of holing up to write.
We can apply these same principles to the cluster of days at the beginning of the New Year, when colleagues and clients are still transitioning back into the workflow and meetings and schedules are noticeably, but temporarily light.
We must harness that crux of excitement and possibility with the openness of time we are temporarily allowed. Unfettered and unabashedly unproductive thinking fuels your creative work. It provides the big picture and the background noise for your creative process.
So, rather than spending that precious free time poring over upcoming budgets, projects and strategy, clear your calendar for nothing. Nothing except time spent to remember how you create.