Saturday, February 06, 2010

Organizing Creativity

I am, for the most part, what people would call an organized person. And I do try to be. I have a PDA where I keep my calendar which I synchronize with my laptop. I make lists of things to do. I keep notebooks and files. I have a spiral notebook handy in my purse to jot down things on the run. I maintain a set schedule for things that have to be done, like paying the bills.

But I find that’s not always compatible with the part of my brain that writes. That part wants to be free of restrictions. It wants to brainstorm, jump from one idea to another without any tethers. That part wants to play at night, dance through scenes, visit characters, try out dialogue. It would be happy to take over and run things.

But lately the organized side has taken over, almost shutting down the creative side, especially in the last few days before the Story Circle Network National Conference. Last night – this morning, actually – I woke at 4 a.m. I could have gotten up, but I didn’t want to. I wanted to go back to sleep. I was determined to go back to sleep.

Instead I lay there running through things I might have overlooked in getting ready to moderate the Getting Published panel. An hour and a half later, I was still awake. The only way I could shut down was to make a mental list of everything I needed to remember. Once I had the list, I drifted off.

I remember making the list. Problem is, I now can’t remember the actual items on the list.

An hour and a half of possible sleep wasted, lost. Come Sunday, the creative side gets to rise again. Run things. Run amok. Let’s just hope it remembers to take out the trash and pay the bills.
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22 comments:

  1. I'm very organized - you've got me wondering if that's why I'm not very creative.

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  2. I think there are creative people who are organized, for sure. I think I'm just one who needs to compartmentalize my two sides so each side can fun wild (when it's time).

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  3. I admire creative people, and writers especially. I'm not sure I'd have the will or stamina to write fiction. I'm organised internally, but that sometimes doesn't make it into the real world.

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  4. I hate it when I think of things I need to do or what to say in an article and can't write them down. I know 30 minutes later I won't remember a thing, other than knowing the first thoughts I had were much better than the ones I'm having at that time.

    By the way, I have an award for you at Thoughts in Progress.

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  5. I have an itinerary for my writing, to keep me somewhat on track. When I'm immersed in that writing list, it's a free for all of creativity. I guess I have to "see" I'm making progress in different areas with the itinerary, or else I'll worry about what's being neglected, and then the worry interferes with the work. Oh it's a complicated cycle ;)

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  6. I seem to be able to channel my dad for some organizational things (my tupperware cupboard & the inside of my desk), other things I'm not able to organize the way other people do at all (calendars, the top of my desk). I think my brain just likes variety :)

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  7. "...make a mental list..." You stopped me there. I have a pad of paper and a pen by my bed. I scrawl on it when things keep me awake and then go right back to sleep. Even though I often can't read what I wrote there is always a word or two that jogs my memory...

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  8. I think this thought of creativity and how it links to being organized it so interesting. I think creativity--and even just the desire to be creative--can get in the way of organization for me. I've often wondered how the two types of personalities play out for other creatives.

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  9. Well hope the weekend goes well at the conference even if yo can't remember that list.
    I'm organized but laid-back as well, so it doesn't usually inhibit my creativity.

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  10. lovely, i just added a lot of some other new emo backgrounds for my blog
    http://www.emo-backgrounds.info

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  11. Helen, I didn't know you were a member of SCN, did I? Will you write about your class at BRP? Also, join the SCNL yahoogroup! Lots of great discussion over there.

    Dani

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  12. I'm scary organized, but don't think it's messed up my creativity too much.

    Have a great weekend, Helen!

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  13. Oh have fun there! ANother one of my blogger friends is there now too. Linda:)

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  14. There's organization and organization .. I think I operate on a different schedule that most of the other folks in my life. I found a great essay by Paul Graham (www.paulgraham.com/makersschedule.html ) that explains the difference between the “manager’s schedule” and the “maker’s schedule.” Most people are on the manager’s schedule, but writers and such are often on the maker’s schedule. Managers’ schedules work on short increments of time – one hour, two hours, etc. Makers’ schedules work on much larger blocks of time – a day, a week, even a month. When you try to make a maker carve up their days into hourly blocks, they become totally unproductive.

    Graham doesn’t offer a way to turn a maker into a manager, or vice-versa, but he did get rid of my guilt over why I let a one-hour appointment or meeting turn my whole day into a useless mess. It's not because I'm disorganized -- I’m a maker, that’s why!

    Anytime I can rid my psyche of a blob of guilt, I’m all for it.

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  15. Good point about how different areas of the brain can conflict with each other--now if I could just get the organizing side to win a FEW battles.

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  16. Wish I could keep thoughts in my head longer than 1 minute, but I think I must have some sort of memory disorder. I try to do brain dumps of all the things I can think of that I need to do...and even make lists for other people in my family. They LOVE their lists! :)

    At 4 a.m, I just get up. And that's almost every day. Sigh. Insomniacs are Us. :)

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  17. I love all the ideas y'all have and how you cope with the different sides of your brain. (And some of you are quite funny!)

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  18. LOL, Helen. My friend and fellow author, Laura Castoro always says a cluttered desk is a sign of a creative spirit. We have clung to that for years to justify our messy offices.

    Hope your panel went well at the conference.

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  19. My creative spirit is alive and kicking, Maryann! The panel was fabulous. These five women had so much information to share. They answered tons of questions.

    Helen
    Straight From Hel

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  20. I like the contrast of maker to manager and I'm off to look at that site.
    I wrote a brand new query in the middle of a recent sleepless night, and even remembered a few bits of it the next day.

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  21. I sometimes dream scenes, then mostly forget them in the morning. If I don't grab the pen before I even get out of bed, they'll drift away.

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  22. I LOVE being organized! "A place for everything and everything in its place" is how I run my condo. Sometimes it gets out of hand, but that's what my husband is for - bringing a bit of chaos in for good measure.

    I don't keep any lists in the bedroom, though. That room is for relaxing, and I don't like to bring "work" in there.

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