Lately, my lunchtime reading (out of the enormous stack) has been the book Imagine by Jonah Lehrer. It’s a fascinating investigation into the conditions under which creativity occurs. While the book has attracted some bad press recently, the main messages ring true with my own experience.
I’ve been thinking a lot about creativity lately, because my novel is chugging slowly toward completion. I’m now in the midst of a 4th (and hopefully final!) draft of this 4 1/2-year project, so fostering the conditions under which creativity can blossom is a major preoccupation. While I may not be as scientific about it as Jonah Lehrer, I do have a few favorite ingredients for effective creative work.
First ingredient: chocolate. Chocolate makes everything better. Especially if it also has coffee in it!
I must have picked up this habit while I was in Britain. I never even liked black tea until I drank it in a window seat overlooking the rugged Welsh countryside. With a book, of course. (That’s Bruce Chatwin’s In Patagonia, if you’re curious.)
Of course, I don’t take pictures of the long hours I spend slouched in my office chair, or the late nights when I have to push up my eyelids to keep them open. The ones pictured here are the nicer moments. But they’re important to the creative process. Says Lehrer:
“This sort of mental relaxation makes it easier to daydream and pay attention to insights; we’re less focused on what’s right in front of us and more aware of the possibilities simmering in our imaginations.”
I’ll buy that.
What are the ingredients of your creative process?