Cramped Creativity

I’ve been thinking about creativity a lot lately, how to inspire and preserve it, and create a process to replicate it.  I know creativity requires randomness, which is part of my frustration.  My own creativity has emerged from being an early adopter of new ideas, and having a lot of varied experiences.  However, in the past 3 years I’ve been cycling through ideas, and have siloed myself into a routine when it comes to hobbies and work.  Also, as an early adopter of ideas I’ve been responsible for conveying them.  Spending more of my time evangelizing, and less time discovering new ones has resulted in mental stagnation.

I know this is probably one of those posts that people will roll their eyes at “yeah right you’re mind is really stagnating…”  But here’s why I think this is an important personal battle:

  1. All the experiences I had between 0 to 30 years of age were brand new.  Studying engineering, participating in a startup, building friendships, and traveling around world all before the age of 30 were great.  But now I’m left wondering what’s next?  Most people would say its time to settle down, sadly I feel like I might not be the settling down type…  Especially since I know my abilities haven’t peaked, and there are more things to experience.  However, I do feel like I am less of a sponge when it comes to absorbing vast amounts of new ideas and information.  I’ve also gotten really good at spotting variations of the ideas that are being rehashed, which is once again frustrating.
  2. As people get older they get stuck in their ways, this of course diminishes creativity.  Just being young and not knowing anything keeps you open to ideas, but when you are older you are more set in your ways, and opposed to challenges because of comfort.  There’s also less desire for self-discovery.  While I can continue to force challenges upon myself, the peer group who is willing to do this with me has gotten smaller.  That’s not meant to be an excuse, just an observation.

So how can I stay wide-eyed, avoid cynicism, and have new experiences that will actually help me to grow?  Sheer drive and digging deeper.

Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating.

- John Cleese

I’ve had a breadth of experiences, but I cannot say I’ve had a depth of experiences.  So instead of dismissing an idea or experience as “been there done that”, I’m actually forcing repetition, and looking deeper.  For example, I’ve been practicing the same form of yoga for almost 9 years now.  To prevent boredom I deconstruct postures, and think about how I can go deeper in them.

When it come to my other love: engineering, this past year I’ve spent less time actually engineering, and more time teaching and writing.  This is extremely gratifying but there is part of me that grows antsy to build.  To fill that void I have to channel my engineering skills into building my business.

Finally, I know the desire to continue being creative, and having a level of dissatisfaction will keep me growing.  Curious to know if other people who are my age feel the same way, and how they resolve it?

 

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7 Comments
  1. Dara 25 November, 2012 at 10:16 am

    I’ve felt a bit like this recently, even though I’m under 30! When you’re in school, every year is a little different and you know you’re advancing forward. After graduating, you have the adventure of trying to find good work. Once you get settled into a career, though, every day kind of becomes the same. One of the negative side effects of accomplishing a lot at a young age is that you have fewer obvious things to look forward to later on.

    One of the easiest ways for me to get excited about things again is to walk through a good bookstore. I realize then that there’s tons to learn about things I already know, and that there are many subjects I don’t know about at all. We all spend so much time in our respective niches that we sometimes forget that there’s a whole world outside of them! Also, for me, doing things with my hands (instead of on a computer) reignites creativity.

  2. Poornima 27 November, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    I like the bookstore idea a lot! I realized I actually do that too. Helps me find out new things. Its how I actually randomly discovered Thich Nhat Hanh’s writings.

    What else do you do with your hands? I cook a lot, and I do keep a journal which I write in from time to time, especially on travels.

  3. Sarika 30 November, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Poornima,

    Great blog!

    On the thought of how to continue to re-energize yourself, I think Yoga is a great tool. The way I think about it is challenging myself with a new pose or getting better with a pose I have been practising for a long time.

    If I may provide some feedback about the site in general – Please use a darker font color for your content. It will greatly improve readability.

  4. Tamra Johnson 4 December, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    I’ve found putting myself in to totally new situations/industries has made a difference. I’ve been taking my first acting class (voiceovers) the last few months to grow my creative/expressive side. I am working on a company in an industry I knew little about, which is giving me the chance to learn an entire new set of information. I think if you put yourself out there in new things, you’ll help your mind continue to stretch

  5. Poornima 5 December, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Wonderful to hear that there is another techie/yogini out there like me. What style of yoga do you practice? What’s the pose right now that you’re working on?

    Good feedback, will darken it more. What browser or device are you on?

  6. Poornima 5 December, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Wow an acting class sounds great! Didn’t even know that voiceovers had to be taught. What are some gems that you’ve learned that you hadn’t known about before you took the class?

  7. Pingback: Interesting Articles from the Week of Dec. 3, 2012 | Exploring the Challenges and Opportunities for Women in Business, Technology and Leadership

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