Of the importance of pauses and time in creative processes

In a way not doing anything is a key part of the creative process. The master stops and contemplates the problem with as much admiration and respect that a possible idea that will solve it. At this point focusing on a few avenues and putting its mind to them is not only ineffective it also seems arrogant.

Pauses, silence, introspection, even talking nonsense —or silly stuff as my daughter will say— are blank spaces many times required after the busy doing or noise that sparks the creative process. Things usually start with a bang that ask of someone to vest completely in an activity, and try, and try, and try until it looks how they wanted it. One key thing separating amateurs and masters, is how they use their pauses at work. Silence is a key part of the song, as they are just ordering noise to go with it.

Is like the truly creative ideas distilled themselves by the best filter, time. They usually come about by the serendipitously mixing —in one’s mind— of thoughts that don’t see to have any connection, and that by the wonders of inaction, slacking, relaxing, or in other words just not doing anything, comes to mind. The Eureka moment is more likely to appear after a holiday, than after an all night of work forcing to solve a problem. In the mind, It seems, that the more you consciously try to focus the less you get back. Few people become aware of this feature of our humanity, the ones that do, usually stroll along looking like not doing anything, while their minds are solving puzzles that can be years in the making. For the rest of us, just strolling along seems as waste. The appearance of action is as important as the action itself. Lack of care about others perception is seen as lack of care about the benefit of the group as a whole, being this work, community or society in general.

How contradictory this is for the act of creation in general, where one needs to care less about group perceptions and more about its inner voice to break out and create something of value. Within the group constraints, and perceptions creation is subjugated, limited by what is acceptable to current views and knowledge, and ultimately only aiming at what seems to be beneficial for the whole group and not for the individual. Is curious how only when an individual not caring about anything in the world besides itself, produces a contribution that positively affects everybody. These misfits, crazy ones, rebels deep into the process of creation yet not seen as contributing, and only to be labelled genius after the fact. Is like human groups —or even evolution— sets the bar very high, so the ones that intend to not follow the rules, will really need to make a significant impact to earn their respect and be allowed to create, without the scorn of being labelled as not doing anything useful.

For the great contributions there is no rush but a relentless determination to make them happen. The constraint of a required time to deliver the work, combined with the masterful use of pauses and silence are two key ingredients in the masterpiece making. Time is crucial to reveal the works that would become great, and the scarcest of resources that need to be cherished and used supremely well. Gaps and pauses of action are part of one’s life work like thoughts drifting away in the sea of consciousness, but at the same time, aiming at arriving on time to its rightful destination.

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