Chapter Two – Questions and Demands
1. Have you been throwing away your good ideas without really being aware of it? Do you fall into one of the traps – throwing out a good idea because it’s been done before (and relies too much on recycled material) or it’s too weird (relying on too much fringe of variability)? If you realize you’re doing this, can you catch yourself in the act and hold onto the idea instead? This week, be aware of ideas and how you treat them. In your journals on process, take notes on this aspect of your own process.
2. Are you someone who believes you need walls between your creative/innovative life and the rest of your life? If so, can you practice tearing down those walls and see what happens? Basically, how’s that ESPN ticker going? Are you keeping your project on low hum?
3. If you do need stretches of time, are you actively trying to find them? I used to threaten to go to a hotel for the weekend – the kind with free breakfast – and just hole up. Is this doable? If you’re an artist, are you looking at colonies that might work for you? Applying now and thinking ahead to an expanse of time might take off a lot of unnecessary pressure.
4. If you’re not a daily project worker, can you try to be daily? This might mean working hard to find time, carve it out of your life and protect it – elbows out – from other demands. When you make that commitment, can you feel your mind “preparing the material,” as promised by Norman Mailer? Be aware of this and track it in your notes on your own process.
5. If you can’t work on your project one or more days next week, can you run your eyes over the work in the morning and carry it with you? Take notes on what happens.
6. Work on your social media consumption. Hard. Track it. See what happens when, instead of hopping onto Facebook or Twitter, you find a window and gaze. Track the gazing, too.
7. Overall, I’ve already asked you a lot of questions. Have you taken the time to write down all of your answers from last week and this week? Do it. Take the time.
Last week, I asked you to take notes on the practice of musing, what I sometimes call writing while not writing. Did you?
I also suggested you take notes on the moment when your best ideas come to you – lifting your head and being aware – so that you might be able to recreate that environment. I hope you did.
One additional thought: There are upsides of handwriting things in a journal. Studies show you remember more when you hand write. The images also exist uniquely instead of monochromatically flattened by one consistent font. You’re carving the words.
That said, there are upsides of typing. If you’re a fast typist and you’ve perfected the wiring from brain to orchestration of fingers at keys – and you end up riffing faster and more automatically when typing, then type. Make a choice but then do it.