Death And The Creative Process

A red hot sunset in Mildura, Australia.

The weather is certainly changing here in Melbourne, Australia. After a late and wonderfully warm autumn we're now getting quite a bit of rain and the days have turned significantly cooler.

I'm just starting off a greater fitness and healthier living campaign. Actually it will need to become a lifestyle change. But my view on such things is that they're usually more likely to be achieved in baby steps.

No, diets and extreme exercise regimes are not for me. But a decent walk (i.e., and hour or so most days) is what works for me. Once that's built into my lifestyle experience tells me that eating habits and sleep patterns will change. As a result a more healthy lifestyle is achieved, weight is reduced, energy increased and more active pursuits become possible.

The secret is it has to be easy, it has to be fun and it has to contain beauty. That's why walking works for me. It has in the past and it will again over coming months. 

Ready Or Not, It’s Time For Fun

Do you remember paperwork? I hate it and I've decided that I'm no longer going to let it get in the way of life. To achieve this goal, and still ensure I'm on top of what has to be done, I've determined to do the following:

  • Take care with the new projects I take on board. They have to serve my creative needs.
  • Improve my workflow so that greater focused is placed on the most important (i.e., 20%) tasks that will help me achieve my dreams.
  • Ignore and ensure I don't get sucked into the 80% of largely unimportant tasks that do nothing to enhance my lifestyle and, if anything, negate creativity. 

Do you know that old joke

"How do you eat an elephant."

"One bite at a time."

Such significant changes in one's daily life take time, but I'm a creature of habit and everything is dependent upon the habits I create for myself. The notion that we create our own reality is central to my own, personal belief system. That means I have more control over what happens now than I once thought. And it also means that, as a consequence of this realization, I'm responsible for what happens next

To Be Reborn First You Have To Die, A Little

Over recent years I've spent the summer months here in Australia quite differently to most folks. You see my year really begins on February 1. January, and in fact most of December, is the time I use to complete all those unfinished tasks and projects I'd planned to do during the previous year. Rather than a holiday (I allow myself 3-4 days off from Christmas through to the end of January) the month of January is a kind of purgatory that I have to work my way through. But, as in so many other things, the fun comes through the work and it's a great feeling knocking off those tasks, one at a time.

While not exactly a progressive workflow it does mean that I start the year, from February 1, in an incredibly positive manner. Without an inbox full of stuff to do I'm then able to begin to empty my mind. To do this I undertake the following:

  • Long walks
  • Sunday drives into the country
  • Watch visually beautiful movies
  • Listen to mind-expanding music
  • Look up at the clouds and the night sky

While my eyes and brain are processing all this beauty my mind is filling with positivity while, at the same time, discarding negativity, pettiness and other life-defeating dross. It’s a great way to re-ignite the creative process. It’s when I know I can do anything I set my mind to. And it’s the perfect time to start doing just that.

A family watching the breaking up of an iceberg from the shore of the incredible Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon in Southern Iceland.

Creativity Is A State Of Mind

It's an exciting time when I'm flooded with new ideas and projects for the year ahead. Through a disciplined and hard working approach to what needs to be done during December and January I've prepared myself for a free-thinking and creative year to come. Major projects and photography adventures always follow. Creativity is a state of mind that needs to be cherished and cultivated.

Can You See Where I've Been Going Wrong?

The problem with this approach is that I'm spending most of the summer months, day and night, working through dross so that I can get to the stuff I really want to get to. Who ever said we have to wait to be creative? It's a bit like holding off on that so called once in a lifetime holiday until your retired. It's bonkers!

Clearly, what needs to be done is to achieve a state of control over your daily life and work balance so that there's plenty of time for creative pursuits; and exercise; and dreaming; and beauty; each and every day. That's the rather obvious realization that I've come to, finally. It's a simple matter of deciding what's important and doing all you can to avoid, ignore and separate yourself from much of the non-creative, non-helpful and negative rubbish we probably all spend most of our day submerged under.

Wherever possible focus on the 20% because that's where creativity, purpose, meaning and freedom exists; and do all you can to avoid being sucked in by the 80% which is, ultimately, energy sapping and soul destroying. It's a simple choice.

Life | It's All A Matter Of Priorities

Here's an example of where my mind has moved over recent days. I want to go for a walk, but I have dishes to wash. No internal discussion necessary, I'm already out the door and into the light. I can't avoid doing the dishes forever. I simply have to understand that, in the greater scheme of things, it's far more important for me to be out and about breathing the air, exercising and being inspired by what the world is just waiting to bring my way. I'II enjoy doing those dishes tonight because it will be the perfect time to listen to a favorite podcast.

Actually I never find getting those larger projects done to be all that difficult. Starting can be tough, which is why it's important to be in the right state of mind to do so. Likewise, finishing a project (e.g., eBook) can be hard because, after pouring everything you can into it, it can be hard to let it go and send it out into the world. But all the work in-between starting and finishing a project is, for me, meat and potatoes.

And I don't mean to denigrate the process by referring to it as such. It's an incredibly creative and inspirational time which is why, despite all the long hours invested, it's something I very much look forward to. It's not easy but, when you’re actively engaged in your life's true purpose, it's a very meaningful and spiritually rewarding process. And, after all, that's how we're supposed to be living.

A spectacular panoramic view of the Vik Luthern Church on a hillside above the town. At around 300 inhabitants Vik is the southern most town in Iceland.

It's been raining off and on while I've been writing this post. But I have a great raincoat and I used to love walking in the rain, back when rain fell more frequently in this part of the world. These days it tends to come less often, but with greater force.

Naturally, it's going to take a little while for me to adapt to my new lifestyle. But, one thing I know for sure, I always feel good when I'm out and about in the light. And feeling good is a great place from which creativity flows. 

These changes are an example of the notion of dying a little so as to be reborn. I believe that notion is very much at the heart of the creative process.

It would be a great exercise to think on your own life as a way of focusing upon and actively pursuing what it is you're actually supposed to be doing?

  • What’s your true calling, your purpose in life?
  • What can you do to better manage your life so that you can find the balance you need to go about living the life you're supposed to be living?

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru