Thought Catalysts: David Usher on Finding Time to Be Creative

November 24, 2016 David Usher, The Art Of

There are leaders and then there are followers. Generally the idea is to be the former. 

But perhaps it's worth a shot to look at this phrase the other way around. Maybe to be a leader, it's worth being a follower. 

The people who lead the way with awesome ideas and unique talents did so by acquiring knowledge and applying it in new and interesting ways. We all need to learn stuff to lead stuff. And those who do it best inspire others to act. 

They are Thought Catalysts. Here they are as told by the keynoters giving us lightbulb moments from The Art Of. 


Waiting for Perfect

Creativity: there is never enough time and space, and conditions are never perfect.

We all have an image in our mind's eye of the perfect time and space to do our creative work. An amazing studio overlooking the ocean with the brilliant light of a sunset washing colour through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Eight uninterrupted hours where we can really focus and let our brains wander around a problem. Being surrounded by like-minded people who inspire and drive us. A supportive community. The perfect co-founder -- experienced, inspiring and connected. It all sounds so good. And then a screaming four-year-old runs through the picture and it all comes crashing back down to earth.

The reality of the creative life is that there is never enough time and space, and conditions are never perfect. The job, the kids, bills, relationships all have a way of getting in the way. Our lives are always full of a never-ending list of things to do that fill our time and separate us from the work we know we should be doing.

Tweet, tweet?

The mind is a funny thing. It convinces us that we want more than anything in the world just to dive into our creative process and get down to work. At the same time, it allows us to stray and fall victim to every distraction. And in today's modern world of pings and tweets, DMs and texts, the temptations are everywhere. We are living in a distraction economy with everyone vying for the same attention for their 140 characters.

The world would surely stop if an @yournamehere did not get an instant reply. Now more than ever, to do work and to be creative in this environment we need to be vigilant. We have to find and fight for the time and mental space amid the chaos.

We are living in a distraction economy with everyone vying for the same attention... 

A Method in the Madness

In this new environment, it is crucial to articulate and define a methodology. How can we find the time to have a workable creative process? For me, the discovery part of my creative process comes first thing in the morning. My key insights -- those light bulb moments -- happen just after I wake up and before the rest of life starts. They come before my thinking gets clouded by how I am going to renovate the bathroom or whether I've paid the electricity bill.

The rest of the day is more about the nuts and bolts of the work, defining and refining ideas. For most of my life, I have gotten up at 6 a.m. to get a clear hour alone to work and think. Having kids, of course, has changed that and now my start time has moved to a slightly painful 5 a.m. just so I can get in 45 minutes.

Whatever your process, whatever methodology works for you, it is so important to define it. And then, to figure out how you can make that definition of a productive creative process fit into your actual life. With a bit of work the two things can fit together. 

Conditions will never be perfect. So just start.


If you want to read more of his posts, check out David Usher's page on The Art Of. If you want to know more about The Art Of and any of its brands, ask your questions here

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