“I want to do more but I don’t know what to do.” Sound familiar?
This is a thought I have at least twice a day. Even on days where I have done a lot. Now, I can spell out an average day’s itinerary and I think most people would see me as someone that does do a lot. Particularly within my interests and passions – I run or swim long distance every single morning, I go to work 5 days a week, I write this blog, I teach guitar, I workout in the gym 3/4 days a week, I read, listen to podcasts and I still find time for socialising and the like. This persistent feeling of wanting even more, to be more productive, to weave more strings on my bow is more to do with creativity. I want more creative stimulation.
Now I think that, much like exercise and training, creativity is something that the more you do of it, the more you find you can do and therefore the even more you do. When I first started running (8 or so years ago) a 5km felt like a big distance, then a 10km, then a half marathon and these days a short run is 8 miles. Creativity follows the same pattern; you do something creative regularly then suddenly you find yourself able to do more. The trouble with creativity, unlike running, is there is no linear path to follow in terms of what to do next. Running distance is simple – you increase the distance. Creativity on the other hand does not have an obvious gradient of stages.
One of my biggest frustrations when playing in the band was that my creativity and knowledge would progress but the ability to utilise this was hindered by factors such as reach, fanbase size, budget, general interest from promoters, etc. It’s a difficult scenario to find yourself in. In an ideal world, the creativity would grow and so would the demand for your creativity, therefore allowing you to become more creative and increase your productivity and workload as well as your skill level. It’s the reason that creative endeavours are so easy to start but hard to maintain. Initial progress is always easy as you start from the very bottom, it’s the middle in which the difficulties lie and thats due to this juxtaposition of supply vs. demand.
One reason I enjoy blogging so much as a creative endeavour is that it is completely within my control and that the level of input is not so great that if the reception isn’t as great as I would like it to be, it doesn’t matter too much. Writing, recording and then performing a song is much more of an investment of time and money, to not have the reaction that you feel the effort perceived was worth can feel pretty detrimental as a creative person.
This doesn’t however, resolve this need to want to do more. So what can?
Well, I need to look at it like running. I wanted to run further, so I did. I want to do more creatively so I need to figure out what I can do and then just do it. The summer holidays are right around the corner and I must admit, I have a fair bit of free time over some of the weeks so this presents a great opportunity with little excuse as to not use that time for productivity. Within my arsenal of skills I know that I can write music, paint or draw, create a website or a business of sort. So which of these should I dedicate my time towards? Well here’s the next problem we encounter: too much choice. Oh, what a time to be alive! We live in the days where we have too much choice and therefore often find that we don’t make one at all.
Well, here’s my solution for the ‘too many options’ conundrum… Take the path that allows you to learn something new. I know how to write songs but there are certain instruments I can’t play and there are genres of music I have never written in before. I know how to paint and draw but I haven’t ever explored calligraphy or Japanese art. I know how to set up a basic website/online business but I have never successfully sold anything online or made money through an online start up. I could also choose to do something completely new that I have never tried before?
I’m going to think about it. In the mean time I’ll just ramble on this blog to satisfy my desire for productivity. Now, where’s my coffee?