In my last post, I discussed the impact routine has had on my life. It does. In a big way. There are times though when my old chaotically obsessed self, needs a release. Those times are usually when there is a project I have fallen in love with. Then, I give myself permission to go all the way. Mostly because I still believe that there are some projects that need a different type of process. That need to be fueled by obsession. That are worth the strain on my body and mind.
It is a conscious decision. One I am completely aware of and before I get into it, I prep. I organise every aspect of my life that I possibly can. I clean my house from top to bottom, I fill my fridge with as many healthy, easy to access snacks I can think of and also some junk for when it gets really bad. I make all the undesired phone calls I have to, I see my loved ones and warn them that I will be M.I.A for a while. I lock my front door and I dive. Into a bottomless pit. My favourite place in the world.
There is much to be said about obsession and creativity. For this chain of thought that has no beginning and no end. This un-routined time closely resembles, for me at least, a kind of paganistic ritual. My work there is to conjure up a force that will guide me to somewhere unknown. My only real job is to show up, through idea after idea after idea, until exhaustion becomes a type of spiritual guide leading me into that 'aha moment'. During those times I keep my notebook by my bedside, including sleep as part of the process. Jotting ideas down throughout my unsettled sleep. Waking, eating, working, sleeping, waking, eating, working, sleeping, until there is an epiphany. One that I can't help but feel I had nothing to do with. An idea that was born through me but not by me. Those kinds of ideas can only happen with this kind of process and when they do, most of the time, I don't understand them. My gut tells me it's a great idea, but it takes many months after its' birth to really understand what it is that I have done.
Routine is good, but so is obsession. So long as there is an awareness of it and a promise of a beginning and an end. Once my epiphany has arrived, I claw my way out of my bottomless pit and I sleep. Until I feel rested. Rested enough to clean up the wreckage that is my life, to look in the mirror again an remember I exist, to unlock my front door, and to go and see the people I love.
Monotony is the killer of creativity. Yes, it is. Routine is a different story though. For many years I seemed to have confused those two things. I have always been the kind of person that liked to do many things. A lot. I used to like to drink, a lot. I used to like to party, a lot. I used to like to eat, a lot. My most favourite thing by far that I have always loved to do, a lot of, is work. I am what is commonly known as an addictive personality, and work is my vice.
A few years ago, my un-monotonous life took a toll on both my body and my mind and I was forced to stop. Everything. In retrospect, what might have seemed on the surface as depression, was my unconscious mind organising things into categories. Placing those useful thoughts into little boxes and those unuseful ones into the trash. Throughout my addictive life I had always thought that if I were to give up my obsessions, my creativity might die.
Having been forced by circumstance to change. To build a new system of living. One based on that ever so dreadful word: Routine, none of my worst fears came true. In fact, something very unexpected began to happen. I began to have ideas that were more solid, that derived from a place within myself I had never experienced before. A place of calm. Routine works for me as a reminder not to work more, but to work less. It forces me to stop, even if every fibre of my body is telling me not to. It reminds me to wake up at the same time every morning, to drink my coffee, in the same way, to take care of myself. To look in the mirror and remember I exist. To bathe and to dress. To begin and to end. To call or to see the people I love. To give space between thoughts. To allow my subconscious mind to do the work without me. Something I cannot emphasise enough. That is the place where most of the work is done. Not grinding at my computer for hours on end. Doing that, not only is a waste of time but distracts the subconscious mind from doing the work it is so designed to do: Reviewing, Assessing, Categorising.
I have realised these past few years that there is actually no point in pushing myself right to edge every single time. And yes, sure, there is a struggle. I love to work. I will always love to work. It is the basis of all of the decisions I have made throughout my life and the reason why I am keeping my routine. It makes my work better. So for all of you that believe that routine is the killer of creativity, I say, give it a try. You might be surprised.