(this post originally appeared at “Freethinking Out Loud” on September 23, 2010)
I wish I could say I’m unique. That I have an amazing method for getting the job done, or one that enables me to juggle multiple projects at once. I wish I could tell you something amazing and life-changing through fascinating pictures, charts, YouTube “vlogs,” how-to manuals, and pronouncements of “focus is everything!” but I can’t.
I can only use this generously opened space to profess the necessity of organization in my creative process. Without it, I’d be sunk.
It’s taken a long time to develop, but organization was the missing link that opened up my mind by giving me a place to store all the things my opened mind required. It gave me a place to return to them once they were out of the cranial space.
By the reactions of some when I profess to my organizational proclivities, this flies in the face of the stereotype of the creative. “Don’t you spend all your time worrying about files?” “Shouldn’t you just create?”
Well, yeah. That’s kind of the whole idea.
I don’t worry about files, because I trust the system I’ve devised. In fact, knowing that I have a second brain of file cabinets, computer files, and inboxes, frees up the creative side of my brain to do whatever the hell it needs to do.
Prior to this breakthrough, I loved the “creative process,” which meant, to my young mind, write down a bunch of stuff, pile it all together, hope it turns out alright. But, there was also a dark side to my creative process – the constant editor. Always going back. Always fixing. And it didn’t matter which side came out – Jedi or Dark Side – nothing was accomplished. Or if it was, by some minor miracle, it was pure crap that lost all of the vibrance of well-executed creativity.
The often-overlooked key to all creativity is a strict self-examination of your own processes, and an honest look at yourself – what works for you (sometimes it changes on a project-by-project basis) and what doesn’t. It’s not a hard-core adherence to “right brain” vs. “left brain” that enables creativity (and if you adhere to strictly to the right side, you’re just as bad as those over-reliant on now-outdated left-brain analytical answers to all of life’s problems), it’s a balance between the two. They work well together if you let them play together. And I’ve found that an organized and disciplined creative process is the bridge I required to cross both halves of my head smoothly and get the job done.
It’s been said that all great art is created within chains, and that’s the truth. Sometimes the best chains we can add are chains on our processes, reigning them in, forming them into a well-oiled machine of organized creativity. At the end of the creative day, all that matters is execution. Great ideas are a dime a dozen. Those that can see them through to reality? Now that’s something rare – unique even.