A Creative Mind is a Laboratory That Needs STRUCTURE (& Organization)
“I must create a system, or else live by another’s.”
~ William Blake
The laboratory of your creative, artistic mind needs structure in order to function at its best. This may seem counterintuitive, but the more organized you are, the more creative you’ll inevitably become, whereas without organization, you’ll never develop the mental clarity needed for long-term, higher-level ambitions and goals, because day-to-day trivialities will keep interrupting you from the focus required in order to obtain it.
Remember, it takes mental energy to make decisions, so every time you have to look for your tools, decide the order in which you should complete various tasks or *react* spontaneously (like a firefighter) to whatever drama comes up you’re losing and draining the same “intellectual fuel” that could be spent on big-time cognitive processing; things like drafting, editing or fine-tuning your most important creative project.
This Occurs on (at Least) 5 Different Levels:
(1) Physically, you need to structure both your home – apartment, bedroom, living space, etc. – and your work environment – whatever free space you have available to you for production – with clarity and high performance in mind. This also entails getting rid of the old keepsakes, useless mementos, dysfunctional tools and so on which no longer serve you. See my original post on getting organized for more.
(2) Digitally, keep your devices relatively clutter-free and on point as well; particularly your computer desktop and file, folder and email systems. If you’re having trouble finding what you need when you need it, that’s a big sign. And if your phone is slow, back up (or just delete) some pictures and videos and *uninstall* the apps and software you no longer need. Treat your technological environment as a mere corollary to your physical one, and go from there.
(3) Mentally, keep your thoughts, values and subconscious beliefs well-structured, as you need to keep your fears and anxieties IN CHECK. If you’re like me, you’ve already spent a good portion of your life *eliminating* and *deprogramming* negative ideas and unsupportive mental blocks behind you, so keep that going. Take some time to do some cognitive house-cleaning and consider what’s really “true” for you now versus what no longer applies.
In some cases you’ll find that, as Brad Blanton says in his book Radical Honesty, “Yesterday’s truth is today’s bullshit. Even yesterday’s liberating insight is today’s jail of stale of explanation.” Journal frequently (i.e. daily) for help here.
(4) Professionally, reset your major goals and re-structure your strategies for achieving them. Remember that as you grow and mature, your outlook and ambitions should grow and mature with you, and remember to *write your goals down on paper*. Personally, I think we unconsciously hesitate to do this because a written goal indicates a commitment – a contractual agreement with one’s own self – so avoid this and use the old-school, time-tested goal-setting techniques to your advantage
(Make sure your goals are specific: measurable yardsticks like getting licensed/certified in a specific field, finding employment or developing a tangible product like a book, album or so on. Always have a definitive, tangible target that you’re life is essentially organized AROUND.)
Conclusions, Qualifications & Extent
I don’t mean to suggest here that something’s fundamentally wrong with anyone who isn’t meticulously structured or impeccably organized in all areas of their life at all times, because I’M NOT myself. My only point is that if your ambition, intellect or creative expression feel a bit stifled at the moment (and a point we’ve all hit at some time or another…feeling like we’re not what we used to be), a more systematic, methodical approach could be part of the answer, as that’ll free up mental energy for your more “executive” functions.
*YOU KNOW* whether or not this is true for you right now. If it is, remember that this “internalized feng-shui” I’m talking about – this fundamental sense of valuing structure and organization – has several components to it (physical, digital, psychological, professional, etc.) Single the various aspects out one by one and spend a couple hours perhaps devoted to each: reorganizing your closet or workspace, clearing out your desk, speaking to an IT-guy about some of your tech problems and so on.
As I say in Ch. 6 of How to Conquer Yourself, “while artists tend to resent monotony, strict order and direction, the idea that a more systematic approach stifles creativity (rather than develops it) is distorted, imprisoning and flawed.” That’s because a creative mind is a laboratory that needs structure in order to perform at its best.