Tag: creativity (page 1 of 7)

Productivity is the enemy of creativity

I like the metaphor used in this post of being light a lightbulb: fully one, or off. In fact, not only have I organised my working life to be like this (I can’t work at half pace, and it’s burned me out when I’ve been employed), but this is the advice I give to my kids when they play sports.

Tweet with calendar showing no meetings and only a workout scheduled at 3pm. Text to go with tweet reads 'this is the one true flex'

“Most people in life are dim lights, they’re on but they are not bright. Because they are trying to conserve energy. You should make a choice, you are either on or off. There is either GO time or there is relaxing time. Try to be more binary. You have more energy when it’s Go time” – Andrew “Cobra” Tate.


Naval [Ravikant] famously said: “Productivity is the Enemy of Creativity”

Rest is absolutely critical for high performance. Without it, it’s like revving your engine until it breaks or blows up. We’re in a new world now where our brains power everything. As the Doomberg crew calls it: “The Gig Economy for Brains.”

Naval again says: “Some of the most creative and productive people I have ever met work in multi-week bursts and then have weeks where they just idle with little done. It’s the nature of the human animal.”

All-in and fully energized OR quiet and at rest. There is no in between. This is a key habit for effective work in the modern day. Don’t be a dim light.

Source: Be Like a Light Bulb: The Importance of Resting Ethic | The Hard Fork by Marvin Liao

Aimless wandering in search of the unknown catalyst

It might not be too much of a stretch to describe Edward Snowden as a hero of mine. I’m not sure what he’s still doing in Russia, but the moral conviction it took to do what he did is staggering.

He writes in exile through a newsletter which is well worth subscribing to. In his most recent missive, he talks about lacking what he calls “origination energy”. On a much smaller level and more insignificant level, I lack this too — especially at this time of year.

So as the young people say, I feel seen.

Edward Snowden poster

For a long time now, I’ve wanted to write to you, but found myself unable. Not from illness—although that came and went—but because I refuse to put something in your inbox that I feel isn’t worth your time.

The endless stream of events that the world provides to remark upon has the tendency to take on an almost physical weight, and robs me of what I can only describe as origination energy: the creative spark that empowers us not simply to do something, but to do something new. Without it, even the best of what I can produce feels derivative and workmanlike—good enough for government, perhaps, but not good enough for you.

I suspect you may know a similar struggle—you can tell me how you fight it below, if you like—but my only means for overcoming it is an aimless wandering in search of the unknown catalyst that might help me to refill my emptied well. Where once I might have had a good chance of walking away inspired by the empathy I felt while watching a sad, sad film, achieving such inspiration feels harder now, somehow. I have to search farther, and wander longer, across centuries of painting and music until at last, when passing by a dumpster, yesterday’s internet comment might suddenly pop into my head and blossom there, as if a poem. The thing—the artifact itself—doesn’t matter, so much as what it does for me—it enlivens me.

This, to me, is art.

Source: Cultural Revolutions | Edward Snowden

Image CC BY-NC-ND: Antonio Marín Segovia