J.K. Riki

Creativity Means Slowing Down

I was having a fascinating conversation with newsletter subscriber Judy on the decline of creativity as you grow older. She mentioned:

“We had so much more creativity when people thought for themselves. Today everyone creates with what China sells us and there is no folk art or original thinking. Young children start out creative and then fall in to the rut.”

It can be easy to go from this idea to simply complaining about the way things are in the world (and tempting, too!), but let’s look at it more proactively. Obviously some people continue training the skill of creativity, artists and musicians and the like. Most people, though, tend to lay it aside for practicality and efficiency.
The truth is, creativity is only efficient in the late stages of the process. When you come up with a solution to a problem that’s particularly creative, it can save a huge amount of time, money, and resources. The tricky thing is that prior to the great creative solution, you have to wade through a lot of fragmented ideas that may or may not work. That takes time.

Being creative means you have to slow down. The world today doesn’t like to slow down. We build civilizations that are all about going faster and faster. Getting more done, sometimes rather than getting better quality things done. That’s one reason why as we enter adulthood we tend to fall into “the rut” Judy mentioned.

Knowing this is exceptionally useful.

When we know that the world wants to speed up, and creativity requires more careful thought, we can plan for the challenges that will arise. If we want to be creative at work, for example, we’ll know we may have to do the prep work ahead of time because management won’t want to slow down while we think up creative ideas. We can schedule our time more effectively as a result, and avoid the rut.

I can only speak for myself, but see if this rings true: I feel like I am rushing around a great deal of the time. I feel there’s so much to do, and not enough time in the day. The very idea of slowing down on purpose can feel impossible when the to-do list stretches several pages long.

Yet if you or I stopped for 10 minutes, right now, and sat with our eyes closed and thought deeply in creative ways, would the world end? My guess is no. In fact, I think the world would get a little bit better, because at the end of 10 minutes we might have insights we never would have come up with if we kept rushing around.

If you make creativity a priority, it means sometimes you have to set everything else aside for a short time and focus on being creative. Creativity takes time, but it’s well worth it. Will you give it 10 minutes of your day today to avoid “the rut?”

PS. Next week the first newsletter will go out, so if you haven’t yet signed up, you can do that here! I’m hoping to get lots of feedback after this first installment, so we can all work towards making it even more useful in future issues. Keep me posted!

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  1. Tricia Chicka

    Slowing down enough to think and prioritize is something I know I really need to do right now at work. I think my ADD brain can get so distracted with so many things flying across my vision that if I don’t have a list or something, I end up looking up at 3:00pm and saying, gee, where did the time go? It feels like I’m just letting life pass instead of fully engaging with it. And I have a feeling that social media really is just a way to pretend like we’re engaging, without really doing so…

    Good food for thought!

    1. JK Riki (Post author)

      I totally agree, social media can trick us all into feeling like we’re doing something- and something important because it’s “social”- when really time just disappears and Tweets or posts fade quickly into the abyss.

      It’s actually one of the reasons I decided to start this site! I realized I was blogging constantly before, but not SAYING much. And what I did say was quickly lost. So I decided to focus on writing more by posting less, and it’s made a lot of difference so far! The output is less, but “more” because of the effort. Plus it’s easier to enjoy the now, instead of rushing around. Sometimes I think we all just try to do too much because that’s the speed of the world around us!

      I’ve also found looking at the sky, really looking at it, for five or so minutes can help me refocus in those moments. Giving up everything else, and just noticing the beauty in the clouds or the stars. You might give that a try, maybe it will work for you too!


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