Monday, May 08, 2006

Nothing's Necessity Toward Creativity

I believe that I have to get a certain amount of nothing done in order to get something done - especially if that something involves creative work. However, even if it seemingly does not, doing nothing is important. Creativity comes in many guises - life, after all, requires a constant stream of creativity to deal with its unexpected thrusts and blows.

But anyway, I feel very imposed upon when I feel, often out of guilt, I must spend my time socializing with people I don't care about. I say to myself - it's because I have things to do! But then, when I decline an invitation, I often find that I am not doing the things I should do - but rather, I end up doing nothing, or, at least nothing of much importance. Nonetheless, I have come to believe that that time is essential for me in my eventual move toward taking real action. I need to allow my mind to wander and it can only do that if I give it rest.

Cziksenmihalyi writes a book on creativity (called Creativity :) ) which describes case studies on a group of successfully creative people (chosen through a certain set of qualifications - such as awards received, work sold/published, etc). In his book, he writes that one theory about success that many of the creative subjects expressed, was the importance of their nothing time. Not all of the creative people found this necessary, but a surprising amount did.

If you think about it, it makes sense. Creativity is essentially just the linking of two ideas, thoughts, concepts, or facts that were previously unlinked. In order for this linking to happen, the mind must step out of external structure, out of society's rules, out of common perception and allow for idle wandering of thought down seemingly impractical and uncertain paths (sometimes through thought, sometimes through daydreaming, sometimes in a mode entirely subconscious to the thinker). However, it seems clear that for many this wandering can only happen when we do nothing in this external world. Only then can we free ourselves in our own internal world.

One can also understand why doing nothing is important if one considers genius. Genius is just KNOWING something, without, many times even knowing how one arrived. The mind makes a leap which works, that no one else has made before. Would the mind have the time to work and make leaps, if it was constantly occupied with more practical pursuits? Perhaps, we do not need to force our brain to work, it will work if we let it. Perhaps by forcing it to do the work we think it should do, we are shutting it off from doing the work it is destined to do.

Thus, allow me, yourself, and creative others the time to do nothing. And help me allow myself this time. I, at times, feel very guilty as I do nothing. Many have said I was procrastinating but I think it may be better termed as percolating. Understand that the thoughts need to wander, the face needs to become blank, and the body needs to repose in order to allow for the swift, efficient working of the internal mind - which will, rest assured, eventually lead to dramatic, thought-out, effective action.


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