Defy the stereotype - become an Organized Creative
Published in SparkSesh Magazine, Issue 5, winter ’20
20/20: The Year of Vision
Do you recognize the stereotype?
“Creative people are always up in the skies and you can never rely on them.”
I always felt opposed to stereotypes, ever since I was a little girl. Instead of playing with dolls, I performed orthopaedic surgeries on them. Instead of gardening, I preferred building highways for my garden ants. Instead of learning to crochet, I was trying to learn woodworking, but there was no equality in our “home-making” lessons at school.
We are always surrounded by stereotypes and it’s up to us to choose which ones to believe in and which ones to feed.
“Creative people are always up in the skies and you can never rely on them” is simply not true. Creative people may be the most organized people I know.
Recently I went to see a wonderful exhibition in London Tate Modern. It was a broad body of work by “experience” artist Olafur Eliasson. I was stunned by his famous “Your Blind Passenger” fog tunnel and photography of melting Icelandic ice, but the most impressive was the first room of the exhibition: the room of prototypes, sketches and the creative process incarnations.
Each of the iconic art pieces was conceived by thoroughly working through pages of crumpled paper, rushed sketches, prototypes, libraries of books, emails with engineers and chemists, paper models with drips of glue. A real journey from a simple test to the full concept development. The artist’s choice is justified by emotional and intellectual research, possible only if the creative is organizing their thoughts, time and resources efficiently. Good art comes from emotional and intellectual effort.
This brings me to the first piece of advice.
Question the norms and guidelines people build around you. Question the dogmas that have “always” been present - you may realise that these frames may need modernizing.
Your life is your creative process and only by expanding your knowledge and enriching soul you can justify your creative or personal choices. Read fiction to teach your soul, read non-fiction to teach your brain. Expand horizons, develop new skills. Our intelligence is malleable, no matter what beliefs you were taught.
Have you ever played the Wheel of Life?
It’s a positive psychology technique that helps realign the values and see the bigger picture. The rules are quite simple - evaluate all parts of your life, give them a number, connect the dots - and here’s your Wheel of Life. You may find that the wheel is not round enough. Your aim for the upcoming season/year is to make it rounder.
Make 3-5 wishes/plans for the next 6 months and write them down to fit the categories. For instance, a 30-book reading challenge goes to “personal growth” and daily 10-minute meditation to “health”. Saving £2k for an extravagant birthday party to “finances”, “MarieKondo” the whole house into “physical environment”.
Make the plans as precise and detailed as possible, but dream big. Focus and improve the elements of life that may have been neglected.
Check Your Systems
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid may look quite abstract, but in fact, it can be easily applied to daily life. The next time you’re feeling irritated, stop and consider - maybe that’s because you’re just tired? Physiological needs are on the bottom level of the pyramid, and you can’t ascend the pyramid before you build the foundation.
Is your glass half-full or half-empty?
If you’re feeling irritated, just check your very basic Maslow’s pyramid needs before you spring into action and say or do something you’ll regret.
Maybe it’s not the state of the world, colleagues, broken chair, slow clients, or the traffic that annoys you the most today? Maybe you simply need some food and a warm cardigan. You’re mad because your partner couldn’t read your mind? Have lunch and talk, you’ll find the solution. You stressing out during the whole evening because you can’t find the perfect hotel room for your next trip? It is called decision fatigue. Go to sleep, you’ll find the answer in the morning.
Always check your internal systems first, rebalance, and then go fight the external battles. You’ll feel stronger and more resilient, less prone to blow things out of proportion.
Clear Your Head
I’m currently working on a number of complex creative briefs in a very fast-paced environment, however, I feel fine and my eye is not twitching. I found a solution that is keeping me sane while juggling all the high-pressure projects: I write everything down. I don’t trust my memory with vital information, and I don’t fill my memory bank with details that won’t matter in a month.
Instead, I focus on things that matter in the long-run: emotions, senses, lessons learned, human connection, conversations and stories from books, art, music and movies. I’m an active listener and I tend to remember what you tell me in detail. This is only possible because I regularly clear my head.
I have a thick and well-organized notebook with work-related notes and I log all progress in a file on a cloud. This notebook is for my “director’s mind” - systematic and colour-coded.
Another fancy notebook that my husband gave me, is for art development. I log awesome dreams, big ideas, nuggets from books, inspiring movie scenes, sketches and concepts as soon as I think of them. This notebook is my “hectic artistic mind”.
There is a third notebook too - it’s a daily diary. If a secret agent were to ask me where I was on the night of September 5th 2018, I can open this notebook and tell them that I have a solid alibi. This is a notebook that helps remember the minutiae daily moments and details that I don’t want to slip away: enjoying an ice cream cone in the park with my husband, watching sunbeam shining through a crack in the tree, listening to Death Cab for Cutie, seeing a bat circling around the lamp post and a swan fighting a man for his bagel. This notebook is my “emotional mind”.
When I open the daily diary on a random page, my two lines of scribbles unfold into a fully detailed memory.
Our lives are built from little moments, not only victories and epic defeats. Keep the real moments alive.
Do you know how people say: “Do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life”. I prefer “Do what you love and the money will follow”. No matter how lucky you are with your job, you’ll need to struggle through the boring and distracting tasks. Financial and external motivation is fleeting.
The key to inner-balance (some call it happiness) is to align your values with your work opportunities.
Internal Gratification is the engine that will keep you moving through all the obstacles. Internal gratification is the reason why I spend my weekends hand-crafting sets for a new music video - I value creativity. Internal gratification is the reason why I accept work challenges - I value growth. My internal gratification blooms when I align my curiosity and determination when developing a new skill.
Make a habit of regularly looking for boosters for your inner satisfaction - and you will be surprised how much clearer your vision becomes.