Every Creative Outlier I know has more books to read, music to listen to, ideas to explore, projects to complete errands to run, and new works to map out. We are curious and courageous and not generally pursuing security or celebrity, and we are also sometimes tremendously focused and sometimes wildly scattered. It depends on the context we live within, which is everything. What is happening around you has a tremendous impact. And how could it not? As creators, the universe impinges upon us and we do some processing and re-emanate a response to what has happened to us.
Try to remember that we also happen to ourselves. We sometimes create the chaos of too many choices and then feel the need to sort things out instead of moving ahead. I know I am guilty of this. Sometimes I explore new tools or processes instead of perfecting works that were originally started.
Now, I am not saying that all discovery is a distraction, we do need to be aware of and understand and acquire and master new tools. It is just that the world is expanding so rapidly that new tools and perspectives are growing at such a rate that it may no longer be possible to even explore a fraction of what we are noticing.
But I have been recently forced to admit to myself that this fun of exploring new things is sometimes an escape for the perhaps less fun work of perfecting things that are almost but not quite done. How many people have been working on writing the same book or painting or piece of music for years instead of months, or months instead of weeks? How many projects could we push over the edge without starting any new ones?
I call this, at least as of today, entropy distraction for it occurs to me that I now have enough started works to last more than the remainder of my life. Now does this mean do not throw good energy after bad or good money or time after bad, or does it mean it is time to simply complete a few things to free up the energy that is tied up, at least in part by Entropy Distraction?
As some of you know, my particular area of interest is music which is pretty constantly in a state of change in part driven by technology democratization. As in many other fields, Moore’s Law has had a huge impact. The fact that a several-dollar chip can musically outperform a several-million-dollar computer has created a wonderland of toys in my studio, office and every other room.
But will this new gear make my music any better? It is doubtful. Has word processing caused the quality of literature to improve? Has digital recording resulted in more powerfully impactful music? Does a guitar player with a dozen pedals better than one with none?
Again I call this Entropy Distraction for you could literally spend many lifetimes simply exploring the new toys we bought last year and have not had the time to master.
Perhaps the real technology we need now is simply to focus and have discipline, which after all is also the old technology. It does appear that the pandemic has caused many people to do just that and complete the words they have had on the back burner for sometimes an entire lifetime.
And since the pandemic does not seem to be ending there is still the to creatively cash in on it. Reducing the randomness and chaos in life evidently needs to be an ongoing exercise that is practiced just as rigorously as any other skill we are working to perfect.
And not taking the time to perfect whatever we are working on, in general, produces results that do not satisfy us but then again do not be paralyzed by perfectionism either. This is a banking act and I would like to suggest that instead of constantly having to rebalance that perhaps the better conscious effort to engage in is Integration not Balancing. Integration sound more permanent to me than balancing which seems to suggest we are always off balance and have to rebalance frequently.
What if we became integrated and reduced entry as it cropped up. Kind of like doing your dishes after every meal instead of when you run out of clean ones, or laundry when you run out of clean clothing. What if you reduced your chaos after making it instead of eating until it was so intolerable that there was no choice.
Yes, it is distraction reduction time. One definition I heard of being organized, is you could locate anything in your life within five minutes, It sometimes takes me five hours instead. I have even been known to acquire the item more than once because I could not find the prior acquired one.
Reducing entropy reduces distraction, which frees up creative energy to create a new mess on the way to completion.
Entropy is clearly worth managing and one way is the completion of what you have already started assuming you still think the effort is worth it.
Do it now!