My last few weeks have been marked by creativity. I love that feeling. I want to make it happen more.
Bill Gates is frequently quoted for saying, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”
I feel this contrast more intensely on a smaller scale: we overestimate what we can do in a day, and underestimate what we can do in a year.
It’s so easy for me to think of myself as a creative person — a writer, a doodler, a designer, a coder — even when I don’t create anything in a given day.
But I’m not really a writer when I’m not writing. I’m a reader of political news, or a dog walker, or a cook, or a compulsively rechecking my email because it triggers a dopamine response-er.
I’ve been “working on a book for three years” now, but I haven’t truly been working on that book for three years. I’ve barely worked on it at all. A few minutes here, an hour there.
Creativity is an act, and one that is so easily sidelined by other actions — anything that feels safer, simpler, easier, or fulfills a shortsighted desire.
How many people do you know who are “working” on things that never get any creative time dedicated to them?
How many projects are you “working” on that you haven’t sat down in front of for over a week? A month? A year? Ever?
Last week, I finished and published a book. The week before I co-created and published a massive Train-the-Trainer Retreat Guide. The week before that I wrote a new comedy show. And in between all of that I’ve made major strides in starting two new (secret, for now) projects. And I’ve only checked my email two thousand times (a made up number down from what I assume is my normal two million times per month).
But in the weeks before that, I was mostly just slogging through administrative stuff. Checking in on old things, closing out 2018. Not really making progress on anything, with only a few essays and one edugraphic to show for it.
All of that got me reflecting on the ebbs and flows of my own creativity, and wanting to come up with some personal challenge or strategy to get a better grasp on that part of my life.
I don’t want to spend most of my time on tasks that amount to nothing, but feel good in the moment (or at least don’t feel terrifying, like creativity often does).
I want to spend most of my time creating things that I share with the world, that are durable, that might exist when I’m gone.
As luck would have it, listening to a podcast interview today with Jim Collins gave me an exciting challenge that I’m going to start tonight.
Continue reading → “The Creative March”