However, when those feelings of knowing tell you that you’re getting closer—when you feel the poetic meter slowly improve, or sense that the graphic design is being unconcealed—then you need to keep on struggling. Continue to pay attention until it hurts; fill your working memory with problems. Before long, that feeling of knowing will become actual knowledge.
— Jonah Lehrer / Imagine: How Creativity Works
Do you get it? Here’s another way to look at it:
Pay attention to the whispers of your soul. Trust them as you would a map, because that’s what they are.
— Andrew Heller
I’ll be sharing a tale of discovery in class today. Before getting to work, please re-read those two quotes at least one more time and think about what those words might mean in your own life.
And just in case you think these ideas just come from books I’ve read, here’s something from my own journey:
Home stretch. Six weeks plus finals. That’s all that’s left of the 2011/12 school year.
However, some of you remain apathetic. But the disconnected ones—the flatliners—though a visible presence in every class, are fewer in number than in year’s past.
Let’s cut that number by a few more today
Here’s the deal: Read the Code of Honor.
I’m serious. Read the Code of Honor and consider, really consider how each statement might apply to you.
Be a hero in your own life. Stand up and decide to try.
Code is Poetry.
— WordPress Motto
Imagine the first day of school next year. After finding their seats, the students are confronted with a teacher who simply smiles and points to the board.
On the board is login info and a directive to use a browser to find the Mac Lab Blog and follow the instructions found on the Week 1 post.
Once there, students are guided through the process of creating their own account on the blog. The final step involves logging in.
At login, several things happen at the same time:
- +10 XP appears in the upper right corner of the browser
- A progress bar/counter in the right sidebar registers the +10 XP
- A generic Gravatar with the student’s name appears at the top of the sidebar
There’s more to it than that, but the main point is that each student will have his/her own account on the blog and the blog will keep track of his/her XP and virtual currency. No more switching to Google Docs.
But that’s not all.
There’s no such thing as a creative type. As if creative people can just show up and make stuff up. As if it were that easy. I think people need to be reminded that creativity is a verb, a very time-consuming verb. It’s about taking an idea in your head and transforming that idea into something real. And that’s always going to be a long and difficult process. If you’re doing it right, it’s going to feel like work.
— Milton Glaser
Then maybe I did it wrong.
I agree with everything in that Glaser quote except that last sentence. Sure, searching for fresh ideas then bringing them to life can be a long and difficult process but I always thought it was fun. As a kid, I picked fruit and vegetables during the summer months. That was work. The two summers after high school, I was a laborer for a construction company. That was work. I started my first business—Back Room Graphics—during my second year at college. That was fun!
So, are creative efforts fun or work? Like everything else, that depends on your personal perspective.
In all cases of perception, from the most basic to the most sophisticated, the meaning of the experience is recognized by the observer according to a horizon of expectation within which the experience will be expected to fall.
— James Burke / The Day the Universe Changed
Every creative journey begins with a problem. It starts with a feeling of frustration, the dull ache of not being able to find the answer. We have worked hard, but we’ve hit the wall. We have no idea what to do next.
…The feeling of frustration—the act of being stumped—is an essential part of the creative process. Before we can find the answer—before we probably even know the question—we must be immersed in disappointment, convinced that a solution is beyond our reach.
— Jonah Lehrer / Imagine: How Creativity Works
I’ve heard many of you say: I don’t know what to do. Or: I can’t think of anything to do. My stock answer is: Go to Inspiration (our digital morgue file) for inspiration but how many times have I also suggested you try re-reading the 5 Stages of the Creative Process?
The real questions for the frustrated among you is: How many times have you actually revisited the Inspiration pages or re-read the 5 Stages of the Creative Process? Saturation and incubation are part of the process.
I’m not immune to feelings of frustration. Heck, I’ve wrestled with one problem since 1988. But I’ve worked in creative fields virtually all of my adult life and I know every problem contains its own solution, no matter how long it takes to find it. Or, as Richard Bach says:
There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.