All or Nothing
Many of us are familiar with the phrase “all or nothing,” or its similar contemporary vernacular, “‘go big, or go home.” While these catch phrases are meant to inspire greatness and perhaps light a fire within us to reach higher (or alternately, never become lit), there are other meanings that can be extracted from these expressions and ways we can use their words as a vehicle to enhance our creative process.
Creative people often believe that if they’re not working on their next project or fine-tuning their skills, they are failing at their life’s intended purpose (to create something meaningful). No minute should be wasted, in their constantly moving mind and multi-tasking is paramount in productivity. For some, this method is constructive and gives aid to the creator’s mission. For others, this need to constantly move and “matter” is exhausting and ultimately takes away from the ability to freely create.
As we become a more technologically connected society and attach ourselves physically and mentally to our calendars, social groups, and apps to make us run according to schedule, we can easily get lost in a constant reel of thought. As if our minds weren’t already jumbled with tasks, or internal dialogue; the daily check-ins on social media platforms to stay connected can hurt our ability to create, just as it can help. Moderation is important for anyone, creative or not, in living a healthy, balanced life. Moderation doesn’t just apply to the way we physically consume food either - it can also apply to the way we feed our brain.
There is something to be said about devoting time to honing a craft and sticking to it daily, or weekly, in order to improve and see results. As with any skill, practice is crucial to growth. However, we must ask ourselves, how meaningful will my art be if it’s derived from a busy mind? It can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to create in a cluttered physical space and this also applies to our minds; if our mind is cluttered, what will the quality of our creation be?
I would like to suggest that as creatives, we apply the idiom “all or nothing” to our work habits. That is to say, give your current projects everything you have - your time, your *entire* mind, your present self. If this isn’t possible - your wearable devices are buzzing to no end, pets are vying for your attention, the dishes are piling up, etc...then don’t force the creative process.
Allow yourself the space to simply be, whether that translates to feeling the blazing sun beat down on your brow as you garden, reading a book curled up on the couch, listening to music while stretched out on the floor, or just sitting in silence. These restful acts are incredibly important and in no way are meant to be acts of stigmatized nothingness, though to the constantly moving creative, these joyful acts can appear to be time suckers.
Being still and present doesn't mean you have to force yourself to meditate, though there is immense value in sitting with your thoughts and acknowledging them until they dissipate. The key is to be fully immersed in the moment, without distraction. It's also important not to beat yourself up if you become preoccupied while focusing on stillness - simply acknowledge the new thought that has entered your mind and then release it, bringing your focus back to inner quietness. Spring cleaning is just as vital to your mental space, as it is your living space.
Can we find a healthy balance between our connected life and our creative life? Is creativity synonymous with isolation? Yes - we can remain plugged in while we create and our work will not necessarily lose significance as a result. And no, we don’t have to channel Edgar Allan Poe, or Emily Dickinson, sitting alone in a dimly lit room without windows in order to garner meaning from our work. We must remember though, not to get wrapped up in a false necessity to juggle creation and connection - we must create the space in our lives to give our work everything and also surrender and do nothing every so often, for the sake of our art. If our well-being is in check, our art will improve as a result.