The Importance of Creative Time

by Chris McGinty of

Creativity is funny. It’s great
when it seems to be flowing. It’s frustrating when you can’t think of anything
that seems worthwhile. It wouldn’t be as fun if it didn’t vary. I’m a creative
person. We can debate about whether I’m smart. We can debate about whether I’m
talented. There is no question that I’m creative. It can be a blessing and a

I was wondering if I’ve learned
anything about creativity over the years. There are people who seem to have the
psychology of creativity worked out. Some people have even provided us with
examinations of the mechanical side of being creative. What have I learned?
Time spent is probably the most
important part of creativity. We focus on finding great ideas, but I think it’s
the work. We certainly don’t want to waste hours on creating crap, but I think
it’s important to do so. We need time to think, of course. Some of the best
ideas come to us when we’re relaxing or doing something mundane, though I think
that those flashes of insight are the result of the creative work that preceded
Iteration – Iteration plays two
parts. The first works like the inventor trying to figure out the light bulb.
Each failure draws you closer to success if there is a successful option available.
The second involves purging your brain of all ideas related to a project so
that your brain can work on the next step. I have story ideas where I haven’t
had a new idea for years, because I’ve made no forward motion. Doing the work
would likely free up my brain to find the next idea.
Mood – I’ve found that one of the
easiest ways to get into the creative mood is to sit down and start working on something,
anything really. Once I’m in the headspace for creative work, I usually find
good ideas.
Holism – The problem with the
holistic approach is that it’s hard to properly track what worked and what didn’t.
Did you suddenly have that insight because you read the right article? Did you
suddenly have that insight because you took that walk in the park? Did you have
that insight from indigestion of last night’s dinner? Here’s what I do believe
though. I think that our brains have an interesting way of drawing conclusions.
I think that when we keep coming back to ideas that our brains take another
pass. It’s why I’m not afraid to write 3,000 words of useless crap to get to
the 500 words that I needed.
Variance – David Bowie would
paint when he was stuck on a song. I think that this fits holism in the way
that some of what I wrote in the holism section fits iteration. Variance doesn’t
have to be what type of art you’re creating. It can be work, brainstorming,
daydreaming, etc. I rarely spend the entirety of my creative work time typing.
Even if I do, I tend to jump between files to take notes about something that’s
not what I’m currently working on.
I think that spending time
creating is the most important aspect of creativity. Ideas are easy. Put me in
a room for eight hours with a few questions and enough access to information,
and I’ll come up with more ideas than anyone could reasonably need. It would be
hard to look at my list and decide what’s a good idea and what’s not. It’s the
act of leaning in a bit, doing a little bit of the work, and seeing what leads
to what. Besides, what good is an idea if it isn’t given a chance to become
Chris McGinty is a blogger who is
inside his warm bedroom writing, because it’s too damn cold to be anywhere near
the outside right now. Ok, it’s not that bad, but he’ll be out in it soon
enough. No need to hurry.

Leave a Reply