Confessions Of A Blogger In Hiding: Lessons In Losing Your Creativity
My name is Howard Givner.
I’m a blogger.
It’s been 13 months since my last blog post. (This is where you all say in unison, “Hi Howard”).
As I write this, I feel like I’m at the podium at an AA meeting, pressed to explain why I haven’t posted in over a year. In thinking about it, I can break it down into a 3 step process.
- Short Term: Too Busy. At first I needed to put blogging on hold for a month as things with the Event Leadership Institute heated up. I suspect many bloggers fall into this category as they land a big new project, or have their personal or work schedules suddenly become very busy. It’s an easy decision to put off blogging for a period of time, since no one is putting a gun to your head to blog on a regular basis.
- Intermediate Term: Expectations Become Too High. One month became two, then three. As time ticked on, I kept raising the expectation for myself. If I haven’t blogged in three months, I thought, my next post better be really great. Eventually this thinking can cast an intimidating shadow.
- Long Term: Creativity Dried Up. When I would sit down to write, a funny (OK, not so funny, really) thing happened: I had nothing. It turns out that creativity is not something that can suddenly be turned on like a switch. The creative muscles in your brain begin to atrophy due to lack of exercise, and it can take a while to work them back into shape.
Paradoxically, it was coming to that realization that brought me back from the abyss. The fact that it was so much harder than I’d anticipated to jump start my creative blogging juices was an insight that finally warranted sharing.
Observations In Creative Capacity
- Use It Or Lose It. Anyone who’s in a creative line of work should know that it’s a skill you can’t take for granted. It’s not riding a bike. The more you use it, the easier it comes, and vice versa. Organizations that seek to foster creativity among their employees thrive when they build it into their DNA, when it infuses the layout and design of their offices, their work policies, the kinds of people they hire and nurture.
- Practice Makes Perfect. During this past year, conversely, I’ve given a ton of presentations, both in person at conferences and events, as well as online with webinars. And the more of those I did, the faster and better I got at doing them.
- The Limits of Brain Focus Capacity. Combining those two observations convinces me that we all have a limit to the number of things our brain can focus on at any given time. I’ve read articles that true multi-tasking is a myth, that you can’t really do two things equally well at the same time without your proficiency at one of them diminishing, even if only slightly.
For example, over the past few years as I’ve gotten better at doing the NY Times crossword puzzles, I’ve simultaneously started having more (premature) senior moments, where I forget random things I know I know. I remember that a five letter word for “shoelace tip” is an “aglet”, but forget why I walked over to a colleague’s desk. Of course, I feel silly forgetting what I wanted to discuss with her, but on the flip side, it’s pretty cool to know what an aglet is.