When I read great works by authors I do a little investigation. I look up the author to learn about their lives. They don’t seem that impressive at first glance. But reading their works you can tell they’ve tapped into something special.
These works are condensed forms of high quality consciousness. You can tell they’ve tapped into the ether.
From what I’ve observed, great work is mindless. It comes from a state of flow that’s independent of conscious mind. It’s more so the bubbling up of subconscious activity.
For example, a writer that merges with flow state, seemingly floats down the page. As the cursor makes its way across, then down, then back and forth, a whole world is brought into existence.
Without getting too formulaic, I’ve audited a portion of my creative process. It boils down to a few pillars.
The Art Of Not Trying
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. — Lao Tzu
The art of not trying is the art of getting out of your own way in order to create quality work.
I’ve broken this “art” up into “The 3 C’s,” Coffee, Cardio & contemplation. The 3 C’s is the “how” of the art of not trying.
- Coffee — Many times we have trouble with aligning our bodies with our minds. We may know, intellectually, that it’s time to get to work but our body just won’t cooperate on a given day. Coffee is the answer. I’ve spoken before about the power of stimulants. If you have trouble getting your physiology to match your drive, coffee is the way. But be careful, caffeine is addictive, you’ll develop a tolerance & you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms when you cycle off of it for a bit. Essentially, caffeine helps us to get out of our own way by increasing our focus. We give our undivided attention much more effortlessly when we are wired with caffeine.
- Cardio — Exercise is a great way to get more blood flowing to the brain. Before I get to writing, I like to go for a brisk walk or hit the weights. Sometimes I even write on my iPhone while I take a little stroll. It’s similar to how pacing back and forth stimulates creative ideas. If you want to facilitate a flow state it’s best to get as active as possible.
- Contemplation — Contemplation is similar to meditation in that it is single pointed in nature. The difference is that contemplation places emphasis on inner vision whereas meditation places emphasis on detachment from thought. Meditation is watching the flow, contemplation is being the flow. Before I set out to begin a project, I like to sit for awhile and contemplate ideas. I allow myself to get immersed in these various ideas, entertaining each one until I “incarnate” into one of these ideas. Once I’ve set my mind on one of these ideas, I spend a bit more time contemplating. I visualize. Then I start to outline the project. After I’ve done all of the above, I walk away from the project outline, breaking ties with the ideas all together. 2–3 hours later, I come back to the outline, look it over then begin working on it from memory only looking at the outline periodically. The ideas I’ve contemplated “fill in” the mold of the outline on its own almost spontaneously.
When it comes to the basics of your craft, master them. If you’re a writer, master the basics of words, then learn how to put a decent sentence together. Then learn how to put a decent paragraph together.
Learn how to tell stories within the basic three act structure.
Play around with those concepts and move on.
In other words:
Master your instrument. Master the music. And then forget all that bullshit and just play. — Charlie Parker
I’ve heard someone say to:
“I Study the greats til they are great no more.”
I don’t always agree with this notion.
This is the formula for analysis paralysis, especially on a platform like Medium. There are great quality writers on the platform. People get hung up on their work, overanalyze it then end up stuck trying to imitate style and execution.
Stop studying others. Study yourself. Study methods that word best for you.
You have greatness within you. Your efforts should be on chipping away any excess fluff that hides your greatness.
Much like a sculptor taking a block of stone and chipping away at it to reveal a master piece.
Creation is about revelation, not edification.
All of the creative advice is good and well but if you don’t take action nothing is going to get done.
You also have to remember that it’s not going to be perfect the first time around, or the second, or the third or the fourth. It’s not going to be perfect a month from now. It’s not going to be perfect a year or 5 years from now either.
But that’s the fun part. Your pursuit of excellence via perfection never ends.
You continue to take action in order to “chip away.” Most people never get started. They’ll stay locked into an eternal loop of “getting prepared.”
Many of you talk too much.
What you don’t realize is you’re wasting precious creative energy. I use to be one of those people. I use to waste precious creative “mojo” by sending long, drawn out voice notes to friends and families when we were debating topics.
I found that after those debates, I had nothing left to put into my craft. I had nothing to write, podcast or speak about.
Stop speaking. Let your thoughts around a particular subject percolate. It will build and when it’s ready it will come to you.
Assuming you have all of the proper personal rituals in place, it will flow. This is why I don’t write or publish every day. I stay still. I live my life. I don’t speak much and when it’s time I go on a writing marathon for extended periods of time, effortlessly.
Stop Thinking In Terms Of “Good” or “Bad”
When it comes to your craft, your art, stop thinking in terms of “good” or “bad.”
You have to free yourself from judgement or you won’t even make it to completion of your first draft.
In a previous article I discuss the difference between editing and drafting. Drafting is for flow state. Editing is for polishing, deleting, addition.
When you draft anything, spill your guts 100% then you edit. It’s in that rough draft that you meet your muse. You hitch a ride on the coat tails of inspiration.
Perhaps one of my pet peeves when it comes to writing or any other form of art, is the group pompous individuals that try to judge other people’s work as good or bad based on a set of arbitrary rules.
Maybe at one point or for a specific audience, certain rules have to be considered in order for a specific piece to be palatable, but beyond that creation is a mode of free expression.
There’s many ways to create. And there’s many different types of creations. Judging any which one as good or bad lowers the vibrational frequency of the artist.
Let Them Smell The Flowers
Ultimately, what we want to do as artists, creators, visionaries is to allow our audience to walk through our created field and smell the flowers.
Give your audience that opportunity by letting go. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Stop thinking too much, talking too much, judging yourself.
Don’t think of your work in terms of good or bad.
Don’t think at all. Just let it flow and let it take on a life of it’s own.
That’s the magic power of concentration.