I had an interesting conversation last night with an independent filmmaker from Austin, TX. We were talking about films, which quickly led to filmmaker David Lynch, famous for such movies as Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks.
Dan, the man I was talking to, told me David Lynch wrote a short book titled Catching the Big Fish (2006) in which he explores a question every writer should contemplate:
Rather than just restrict creativity to those hours per week we write, how can we use the rest of our lives to increase the breadth and quality of our work?
I have, at this moment, Lynch's book beside me and will soon read what he says. Before I do, I'll throw out a theory that's formed from my own experience:
To be creative in one pursuit, you have to encourage creativity in all pursuits.
What Does That Mean?
If, when not writing, we listen to music, how can listen to encourage creativity? Can we move to the rhythm? Can we listen for patterns? Can we let our minds riff on the lyrics?
If we do our taxes, how can we do them creatively? Can we chronicle the emotions in a tax diary? Can we study the language of instructions for the odd humor contained therein? Can we figure out why we're doing the task under certain conditions (at 2 a.m., while dressed in a chicken suit, while dancing beside the printer in an attempt to hurry it along so we can do the two-minute sprint to the mailbox, making the deadline with five seconds to spare)?
That Sounds Exhausting!
Across-the-board creativity is something that once ingrained in our lives, moves to the back burner, taking very little conscious energy.
I imagine the concept as the Ping-Pong balls kept airborne in the clear plastic container until the moment the air current is turned off and the balls fall into tubes, thus determining the new winning lottery number.
As we do our daily tasks, we allow anything our mind either consciously or unconsciously finds significant to float up. We continue what we're doing — vacuuming, playing with the dog, eating a banana — while the ideas hang out. They move around, they bump off one, they occasionally agitate and ricochet, until that moment one drops into place and ah-ha! a winning, workable piece of our story is found.
Do you practice across-the-board creativity? What does it look like for you?