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?
8 thoughts on “Imagine”
I’ve been thinking a lot about this too lately! I quit pinterest cold turkey because it was sucking my creativity out of me! Great ideas on there, but I realized that getting all these crafty ideas was stopping me from having my own original artistic ideas. Creative laziness… no good! I’ve been wanting to paint/do some art lately, but the well has been a bit dry… just a few, not fully formed ideas Figuring out ways to fuel it. I have too much business usually, and need to make more time to just sit & think and daydream 🙂 Need to get my site & blog back up and running so I can get these thoughts out there & let them grow 😉
Awesome! It’s so true; I read a blog post about making time for the pre-art creativity to happen. We need space in our lives to exhale, and in the nothing-time, the ideas start to churn. Great idea about Pinterest–I think fasting from social media last week helped me to get off the social media hamster wheel for a while and sit with my own life and ideas 🙂 Can’t wait to see what comes of your cultivating-time!
Being outside and gardening, especially weeding (menial labor!)seems to be instant creative fuel for me, though by the time I’m done I’m so tired I can’t always put the creative ideas into practice. But I’m always inspired by the ideas God seems to bring to mind outdoors. I say God because most of the time these ideas seem to come out of the blue, applications of weeding to my inner life. Maybe I will try some of your suggestions to move to the next step of actually implementing those creative ideas, and, like Elaine, get that blog reignited! By the way, I notice that in your photo of that delicious bar of dark chocolate, the wrapper has been tampered with :0!! Thanks for getting the fuse going!
Yay for gardening inspiration! Can’t wait to see that blog up and running again 🙂
I can TOTALLY relate to chocolate and post-it notes but will sub Coffee for tea. There are many things that fuel my creativity — I try to pick one each week and blog about it. :-)I definitely believe in getting away from the computer to allow inputs from all over the place — with input there is no output.
Hm…I’d say coffee is a very acceptable substitute 🙂 You’re right, though–the computer is no substitute for input from real life.
Chocolate, coffee, a long walk, a funny radio show, anything that’s cleverly written (movie, tv show, book, etc), and trusting the possibilities our creative minds offer up. All of these fuel my creativity.
Awesome, Tami! I also love long walks. They give my brain time to mull over ideas. Plus, the beauty of nature inspires me 🙂