Thursday, January 30, 2014

Peripheral Creation Versus Principal Creation

Being prolific doesn’t mean doing everything fast.

In fact, when it comes to the principal act of writing, that is, physically putting words on a blank page, I actually work quite slowly. Which seems unlikely, considering I’ve published two books per year, every year, for the last decade.

But you have to understand, writing is only one step of the creative process.

Before showing up at the page, there’s a mountain of journaling and researching and ritualizing and gathering inspiration and taking notes and organizing material to be done. And after showing up at the page, there’s a second mountain of editing and formatting and architecting and managing and publishing and marketing to be done.

Now, those activities, I do execute quickly. Because they’re peripheral steps in the creative process, where it’s more about speed and less about skill. Where velocity doesn’t degrade value.

Photographers know all about this distinction.

According to the landmark study by the International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers, after editing, designing, bookkeeping, going to meetings, communicating with clients, marketing, networking, equipment setup, technical maintenance and working in photo labs, only about twelve percent of the photographer’s time is actually spent taking pictures.

Twelve percent.

No wonder they take their time.

Shooting is their principal work unit.

And that’s something that should never be rushed.

But as for everything else in the creative process, if you want to achieve artistic prolificacy, put the pedal to the medal.