Editable Google Slide (CC-BY-4.0)
Overcoming the tyranny of the blank page could be a problem for many. But what we find battling increasingly with these days – is the force on the other front of the creative war: the treachery of the screen which is full of great tools and amazingly interesting information, and possibilities and ideas.
You see, in order to get some creative stuff done, we need to either be really really challenged (in a very pressing way) or really bored. And we think there is a problem with all these wonderful tools, the “bicycles for the mind” that we have built and adopted recently: they offer possibilities that we could have never dreamt of, but then they betray us by offering easy access to unlimited knowledge and excitement. They rob us of the wonderful feeling of being bored.
So if, like us, you are finding it increasingly difficult to pursue (and finish!) your creative endeavors and fight off the treachery of the full screen, here are three things we can try doing together:
- Stick to a strict information diet. Bits and letters need to be consumed in moderation, just like sugar.
- Make some well-defined time in the schedule to be bored. How about “Bored Sunday”?
- Strictly limit the number of “slots” or “projects”. Tools allow us to quickly and effortlessly jump between projects and discussions, which produces a feeling of making a little progress on a lot of things. Fooling yourself into thinking that counts is easy. But in reality that’s no good. One thing a day sounds much better to us.
It has been said that we first shape our tools and then our tools shape us. Well, we’re not sure we like the way our tools are shaping us these days. They push us further and further into consuming information. And while that is enjoyable and necessary, our intellectual life has to be balanced between consumption and creation – since the latter is one of the ultimate joys of human existence, if you ask us. “The pleasure of finding things out” needs to be supplemented by “the pleasure of making things up”.
It’s probably not all quite as grim as it may sound. We’re sure we will win this war one way or another. But it would be much better if we become masters of our tools now and get back to being bored into creativity. Because otherwise we’ll have to wait till something awful happens (like a major existential threat) and we are challenged into creativity in a hard way (as witnessed during WWII, for example).