Did anyone ever tell you that creativity is messy?

Creativity is MESSY.

No matter how hard I try, papers and books seem to pile up on my desk which makes it difficult to find the timeline I sketched out the day before or the notes I made when speaking to my editor. This week, as I once again tackled the piles in an attempt to restore order, I ran across this note on a pink envelope:

“Be aware of what you don’t want to pay attention to.
Name it.
Watch it.
Examine it.
Learn about self.”

What an odd note I thought: Pay attention to what I don’t want to pay attention to! If you are a long-time reader, you won’t be surprised to hear that I didn’t make note of who suggested this and that I don’t remember where it came from.

I decided to give it a whirl so I asked myself:

What do I not want to pay attention to? Answer: my messy desk.

What am I looking at right now? Answer: my messy desk.

Look, there are piles of paper on – my messy desk.

Okay – now for the learning about self part: I think that I don’t want to pay attention because I want to believe that creative people are messy. Creative people are special! And in addition, though I really don’t want to admit this, the psychoanalyst I’ve been seeing for a decade, insinuates that I am not responsible.

Whoa! WHAT? If I know anything about myself, it’s that I AM responsible.

This is a frequent happening in analysis, finding out things about yourself that make you question everything you’ve known about yourself. It can make you kind of mad.

If you read this post carefully, there may be clues pointing to my lack of responsibility, especially on the website when you observe the image!

To learn more of my irresponsible ways, you will have to wait until October 2020 when my book is published! You may be able to pre-order before then and you can be sure that I will be responsible and let you know when.

But as for you – what is something you were surprised to learn about yourself? Who helped you learn it? I’d love to know – I’m interested in knowing how we hide things from ourselves.

CLUE for thriving in a pandemic: Kevin Kelly is now reading aloud his list of 68 things that I’ve mentioned before! You can find him on Twitter. Today’s clue: “Always demand a deadline. A deadline weeds out the extraneous and the ordinary. It prevents you from trying to make it perfect, so you have to make it different. Different is better.” This advice is why you receive such different blog posts every week. What deadline can you set for yourself to accomplish before next Saturday?

IMAGE: Captured in the hotel dining room, first evening in Bangkok, 2013.


6 Responses

  1. Thanks, Nicky, for reminding me that a messy desk is a sign of a creative person! (I just cleaned my desk yesterday, btw.) Irresponsibility, I’m not yet ready to own!

    • Oh Diane – thanks for comment and honesty. But I would like to say that perhaps you are not irresponsible! We all have our own ways of hiding from what we don’t want to pay attention to!

      Have a great weekend!

  2. I was surprised to learn that I am vindictive. I learned from both employees and bosses in the early 1980s. Employees would warn fellow employees that they could get away with a lot, but not to go to far as they would lose their job. A boss once told me that they hoped I never got mad at them.

    Looking back I think I realized this since childhood but never really acknowledged it.

    Did you see this in me?

    • Hi Nolan,
      No, I never saw this part of you. You have always been kind and loving when I was around.

      It’s interesting what brings out our less than desirable qualities. My analyst seems to
      point out all of mine in very subtle ways – in ways that make me wonder how I do what
      she says I do to her in other relationships.

      Glad we had a conversation about this!

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