The story so far:
The tagline of my website, The Ink, is:
Insight and analysis on the creative process and productivity – from the greatest minds in history.
When I set it up almost a year ago (after writing, thinking and ruminating without doing anything about it for as long as I can remember), I wasn’t sure that’s what the blog would be about.
But over time, as I started documenting my creative process, sharing the lessons and insights from the people I’m inspired by, and slowly building up a fairly hefty body of work, the purpose of The Ink became clearer and clearer.
I kept it up throughout one of the most stressful periods of my life: my final year of university, finishing my dissertation, all of my exams, trying to find a graduate job. Rather than cut down on my output, I committed to one post a day for 100 days. It forced me to produce. It shut down any escape route.
It was one of the best decisions I ever made. My readership started to grow. I felt motivated, energetic, enthusiastic. The ideas flowed. Writing became an essential part of my everyday routine.
I was trying to embody one of the ideas I most believe in: the necessity of constraints in the creative process (click here for Hunter S. Thompson’s thoughts on the topic). Why? Because we will always be impeded somehow, whether it’s by time, resources or our current skill levels. Expecting it not to be is stupid. So you may as well practice working within boundaries you set yourself.
By removing the need for work to be perfect, by accepting that as you attempt to translate your abstract ideas into reality, they’ll inevitably be deeply flawed, you unlock the ability to move past your creative blocks. Some handy constraints for me are time (E.G. setting a timer for 25 minutes and working solidly until the buzzer goes off) and quantity (500 shitty words, 1 side of paper, 100 pushups).
Since my last post, though, I’ve been slacking. I let the resistance creep in. I convinced myself I deserved a break (which perhaps I did). And suddenly, I’d extinguished the fire I very purposefully lit under my arse.
I stopped working. Well, at least partly. I’ve still been reading, watching, listening, and thinking about creativity, practical wisdom, productivity and personal philosophy. But without an outlet, the ideas are just sitting there. They aren’t helping anyone.
The drought stops today.
I’m currently on a backpacking trip around South East Asia with my girlfriend. It’s a last hurrah for the world of ‘studenthood’. We’ve both graduated now: her in business, myself in economics (check out my graduation speech here.)
It’s been incredible so far. I’ve had a lot of chance to catch up on my reading, to learn about countries, cultures and people I was woefully ignorant of, and to do some deep thinking.
Translating this data, this input, into some kind of output – that’s my next mission.
To sum up: I’m back.
In the words of Anthony Bourdain:
“There is art left to be made in this world.”
Better start making it.