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ISSUE 041 | 03 November 2021

On keeping the creative flame burning

Illuminated, inflatable moon suspended above the altar of Durham Cathedral
Museum of the Moon installation at Durham Cathedral
Hello [subscriber:firstname | default:there]

I have so much going on in my head this week that today's newsletter feels very fluid. The idea for the topic appeared and I wrote until it felt done. I enjoyed writing it. And I hope it makes sense to you!

As ever just hit reply to let me know what you think.
This week, my creative mind seems to have awoken from some extended period of hibernation. I wasn't aware it had been dormant. But now that I suddenly feel inspired to create again I've realised that it's something that's been missing for the majority of this year.
There are a few things that I have identified as possible reasons for the recent awakening. They are:
  • recent visits to exhibitions at The National Glass Centre and Durham Cathedral
  • researching ideas and sketching out a design for this year's linocut Christmas card
  • a new work collaboration giving me the opportunity to bounce around ideas
In the mood I'm in right now, I just want to start making... but there's also work to be done. There's a tension between wanting to drop everything and ride the wave of inspiration and knowing I have other things to do first.

I see parallels in this with more broadly how we prioritise what we have to do. Especially for those of us who have flexibility and autonomy in when and how we work. Often we're drawn to spend our time on the more fun or exciting projects, or aspects of a project, . This is something that's covered in the piece about yak-shaving I shared last week.

My biggest concern is that if I don't act now I may lose my motivation or inspiration. It feels like a flame that could be snuffed out at any moment and my mission is to keep it burning. So I'm asking myself some questions about what I can do to keep the flame alive without letting it overtake everything else.
  • How can I bring more creativity into my day-to-day work?
  • How do I capture ideas as they arise so that I can return to them later?
  • How can I change my environment to promote creativity?
  • How do I move from inspiration to action when the time is right?
I'm curious about your relationship to creativity and inspiration right now.
What systems or practices do you have in place to keep the fire burning?
I'm currently reading Maria Konnikova's book, The Biggest Bluff, which is about poker and decision making and am finding it informative and entertaining. It prompted me to revisit this interview she did a few years back for the Knowledge Project: Less Certainty, More Inquiry.

Matt Baer, the founder of made this... Welcome to Metaboook

In the latest issue of The Imperfectionist, Oliver Burkeman writes about an aphorism that helps him feel empowered to choose what he spends his time on. I'm interested in the idea of aphorisms more broadly as captured here:

If a given aphorism "works" for you – and of course this specific one might not – then for at least a few moments, you experience something more than intellectual illumination. Things feel different, too. Life somehow feels more doable. Your problems feel more tractable. The world makes slightly more sense.

This reminded me of an idea I had some time ago to write about the Delphic maxims and their relationship to modern life. If that would be something you'd like to read, let me know.
Joy is an act of resistance.
— Alan Moore

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