Posts Tagged creative process

The Thrill of the New Notebook

In 2017 I worked with a person who made beautiful hand-written notes of meetings and conversations.  She used an A4 notebook with unlined pages.  Her lovely handwriting flowed over the page, brought to life with symbols and clever little illustrations and symbols.  Once I noticed that she had almost filled a notebook and had a fresh one sitting on her desk, ready to start.  I asked her whether she would leave some pages empty in her current notebook so she could use the new one sooner.  “I’m resisting the new book … but probably not.” she replied.  We spoke about the delight of opening an empty notebook, the delightful anticipation of using it, imagining the conversations you might record, and how you would make your note-taking better than your last book.  The potential represented by a new notebook is thrilling.

I had a similar sensation yesterday when I walked into my apartment.  It was empty.  Pristine white walls.  Freshly cleaned carpets without any imprints from furniture resting on it.  Ready for my daughter and I to create our new home after 214 days on the road.  We have a few pieces of furniture to come out of storage, limited kitchen equipment and no decor.  A rare opportunity to create a space from scratch.

I am relishing the potential for creation.  I want to linger a little in this phase – imagining what might be, creating a vision and direction to guide choices about what I bring into the home and how I set it up.

I often feel this little rush, this thrill of what might be, at the start of a project or creative process.  This includes in my professional life where I create things like mentoring programs, workshops, learning strategies, online communities, newsletters, articles or presentations.   It’s enjoyable to bring the vision to life too, especially when the output or outcome is even better than you imagined.  However, I find a deep thrill in the early stages when possibilities are wide open and you get to design (or co-design) and plan something new.

Is this sensation familiar to you?

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Capturing Small Bits and Pieces

I’ve written a little before about how Austin Kleon inspires me.  In particular, I’ve had two attempts at a daily dispatches experiment – in July/August 2017 and again January 2018.  I managed five posts the first time and eight (across all of January) the second time.

I had trouble getting to sleep last night.  My brain was over-activated by excitement, stimulation and anticipation.  Today I end 214 days on the road, without a permanent base.  The opportunity to re-establish a permanent base has me thinking about what routines and habits I want to create in my new home.  A fresh start is a great time to resculpt daily life.

I subscribe to Kleon’s weekly newsletter where he provides 10 things he thought worth sharing from the week.  I gave myself the rare treat of actually reading it last night.  No. 6 this week included links to how and why he keeps a diary.  I especially liked his note that one of the reasons he keeps a diary is that “It helps me pay attention.”

It raised memories of two periods in my life were I felt I really did pay attention.  The first was in the late 1990s when I did a City & Guilds course on ‘Creative design for embroidery’ when I was living in England.  I started looking at the world differently as I moved through it, noticing small details, my mind wondering how I could capture a scene with stitch.  The second was when I participated in a 30 Day Brainstorm Challenge launched by Shannon Tipton.  I made 25 videos in July 2016 about something that made me go ‘aha’- in other words, something that I noticed.  Although posting a video daily felt like a lot of pressure, it also made me notice and think more about what I was doing, reading, watching and so on.  It was highly invigorating.

Before long I was deep in the glorious rabbit warren that is Austin Kleon’s blog and I came across a podcast interview that he posted with sketchnoter Mike Rodhe.  It was one of the first things I thought about this morning and I couldn’t resist listening to it as I woke up.  Two quotes that caught my attention:

I sit down every day and I try to write something interesting.”

Small bits and pieces over time turn into something big.”

Since October 2017 Kleon has been writing a daily blog post.  He focuses on frequency rather than length or quality.  He doesn’t use site analytics to see what is being read.  He just writes as a daily habit as part of his creative process.  One of the things he uses his blog posts for is to create talks and books.

Harold Jarche is another frequent blogger.  He posts several times a week.  I’ve heard him refer to his blog as his ‘offboard brain.’  He uses it to think, and it’s fascinating to watch Jarche’s thoughts and body of work evolve over time via his blog.

Last year I split my blog into two separate pages on my website.  My main blog is for better-crafted opinion pieces where my goal is to speak to an audience, present a point of view, and influence the direction of my field.  I also have my ‘Michelle Works Out Loud’ page (soon to be re-named for reasons I’ll go into in another post).  This was intended to be my online scrapbook – my space to show my work, and share small bits and pieces which, over time, may turn into something bigger.

I’m back.

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