Protecting Creative Process

“We should be doing though leadership pieces as part of a blog and social media marketing plan, as an introduction to the leadership team and the company,” which is what I said in my out-loud voice sitting across from the founder and CEO of HomeRoots. In my brain, I had the gif of someone “rolling on the floor laughing,” because we all wear many hats, and taking the time to create that editorial and imagery and then actually post was number 999 on my list of priorities, so imagine where it might fall on the CEO’s list?

“And besides,” I responded, “I can’t even get to a place of creativity, too much stuff going on.” To which he replied, “well at least you have your thought leadership topic — how do you create bandwidth for the creative process?”

Great question. My place of “brain quietude” is bobbing around in the ocean, preferably the Gulf or the Caribbean. But I can’t do that regularly living in New York. There are other places for me of total relaxed quiet, like getting a massage, and I have connected a lot of dots and come up with some insanely juicy ideas while getting a massage, but you can’t do that regularly either. And, yes, the shower is a wonderful place for lightning bolt ideas but you can’t stay in there long enough to figure out how to get your creative mojo back!

The next step for me then was to look to the universe for signs of how to free up mind space for thinking, dreaming, and creative processes. The next day Joanna Stern had an article in the Wall Street Journal about Apple retiring the iPod. The iPod was 20 years old! Wow. The simple beauty of a music-only platform, just you and your click wheel and gigs of music, caught my attention. No Siri interrupting to read your messages, no tweets, swooshes or dings, or lowering the volume with every notification. No Pictures, no apps. Just a total “uni-task” platform for delivering music, juxtaposed against a “multi-task”, down a rabbit hole, distraction device called an iPhone. First sign from the universe, uni-tasking, and getting away from distraction is extremely important for thinking time.

The second sign came from a yoga class, one of my favorite teachers was going through chakras and the Third Eye was the chakra of the day. My yogi is also a former creative director for an advertising agency and a very good wordsmith so she framed this as the “Third I” for imagination, insight, and intuition. And she took us through a flow series where we were given the option to do the flow with our eyes closed. A series of basic poses became difficult robbed of the sense of sight. She said to the class — bet you aren’t thinking about your grocery lists right now. And she was right, by just intently focusing on balance and listening for pose queues, there was nothing else in my head. And as we lay in savasana — I started thinking of things for a blog post and ideas for a future campaign. That hour of focus on inner sight provided a spark to imagination.

The third sign was from a genius software engineer friend, a guy who spends hours on screen. I was telling him about my need to return to pen and paper and he pulled out his notebook, he loses his phone everywhere — and actually hates his phone — but his pen and paper go everywhere with him. To me, a very sharp #2 Dixon Ticonderoga pencil or a Pilot Pen, or the pricey pen my parents gave me for college graduation, and a legal pad or Moleskin notebook are the tools for discovery and creativity. My house is littered with filled notebooks. I had been spending so much time mired in Skype, email, and screens that I had gotten away from pen and paper.

This blog started on grocery receipt after a yoga class and a used envelope from a Mother’s Day card, with my phone far, far out of reach, and amended with post-it notes along the way as I continued to connect dots in quiet bits of time. This is a process I will continue as I dive into marketing projects — quiet space, pen and paper, uni-tasking, with my phone and laptop far, far away.

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