What is a 24/7 Creative? (part 1)

Steve Gordon, Jr.We think of ‘time’—and the measurement of such—as a very mystical thing. Conversely, we’ve also managed to turn the ethereal into a common catch-phrase that has come to simply mean the “always accessibly mundane” like a sleepy Wal-Mart at 3 AM. Together, both modes of thought have a tendency to create a type of temporal Tupperware that holds what it is we can and cannot do; walk by this age, retire by this age, not happy until 5 o’clock, unhappily road-raging by 5:15, only able to enjoy ourselves on the sixth & seventh day of a 7-day cycle, etc. With that kind of duality, it’s understandable we struggle to get a grasp on time.

So more direct and to the point: when thinking about the art, balance and skill of being a 24-hour “creative” — the topic of my session this year at the Creative Freelancer Conference — I find myself unable to escape to a couple of basic thoughts that act as spoilers to this movie.

The plot spoiler is that minutes, hours and days are steadily advancing. They’ve done so before us and will do so long after. We cannot yet stop it, so we are destined live with it. (Note that living is the key. It tends to be a motif) Clocks are simply an ancient measuring device to allow us to accurately keep track of this movement. Mystique, ruined. Oh, you already knew that? Okay. Let’s move on.

Skip ahead and see the ending; after establishing that time is ever-moving, we are faced with the fact that we are labeled as “creative types,” be that self-imposed or externally labeled. So, as long as the clock ticks, the sun advances across the sky, and we are indeed alive, it’s a more than safe deduction to say that we are—by default—already “24 hour creatives.” Sound about right?

What we do with that from there is up to us. The larger set piece is whittled away by chopping, cutting and dividing our actions and our time as if we can somehow shut off life and our very nature of being creative people. Worse yet, we pigeonhole exactly when we will be creative.

We are independent creatives, are we not? Then who determined when we should work, when we should play, when we should shut it all down and when we are to be given credit for being “on the clock?” Add to that the fact that we are not all the same. We scream individuality yet act like sheep, following a stale, templated set of actions to be seen as “professionals.”

Work is merely a slice of an infinitely larger pie called ‘Life’; a minority part, by comparison, if we’re slicing into that 24 hours, previously mentioned. Your work time does not define your creativity. Creativity is actually more a part of the life you live than it is a part of the work you do. It’s fueled by the surrounding atmosphere of that life. Work and career are simply the beneficiaries of the environmental exhaust of a life being well-lived.

Ooh, here comes that “living” part, where we find balance a bit of a myth. Shall we pause for snacks and a potty break?

Any thought so far?

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