A simple, inexpensive creativity support system
For quite some time I’ve been diligent about always having index cards and 4 x 6 yellow pads on hand to take notes on new business ideas, my self-awareness and personal development, my insights, ideas, observances, and experiences, etc. Its all in long-hand writing; digital doesn’t cut it for me when I’m writing from the heart. I’ve found writing these pages an extremely valuable practice supporting my creativity and growth.
However, I never labeled, titled or dated these pages, and when I filled a notebook I just stuck it in a basket where they accumulated. I sometimes reviewed what I wrote but usually found it to be too much trouble to find what I was looking for. I hate paper, files and clutter and love simplicity and minimalism. So I felt pretty good about the fact that I was actually saving the notebooks instead of getting rid of them.
But then I read a wonderful book, “The Creative Habit, Learn It and Use It For Life”, by Twyla Tharp. She wrote about the importance not only of taking notes, but of organizing, categorizing and saving them. Her system is to start “a box” for each choreographic project that provides a comprehensive archive of ideas, video, photos, music, inspiration, learning, design – and all the myriad elements that comprise her dance creations. Its a system she finds indispensable to her craft and she highly recommends it to anyone committed to creativity.
I consistently do creativity exercises, for myself, and with my clients. But when it comes to process and practical habits development, I tend to gloss over it. It always felt too much like office work and not enough like being creative.
But Ms Tharpe writes so compellingly and persuasively about the critical importance of “the box” to creative development that I decided to follow my strong impulse to try it out. Before I began, I made a few decisions about how I should approach “my box” so that it would be enjoyable, applicable to my specific needs and not a dreary task. To that end:
- It would be more generalized rather than project specific.
- It had to be simple, made from stuff that I had on hand, with no trip to office supply store required.
- It had to be done on the porch, in the sun, away from computers, phones and any other electronics distractions.
So the photo below is the result of three surprisingly enjoyable hours spent putting together my “box”. And I expect that my investment in practicing the creative habit will pay off in many unexpected ways over time.
- old plastic file storage box
- old metal 5-section file holder that fit in box
- large clips
My box categories:
- Content and community
- Self-awareness and personal growth
- Dreams and imagination
- New skills and abilities
- Tear pages from notebooks and clip them together in categories
- Label categories in “my box” and file pages
- Enjoy the sense of satisfaction and completion
I highly recommend that anyone interested in creativity and personal and professional enrichment make their own version of “the box”. So many ideas are wasted because they’re not converted to content that can be shared, reviewed, embodied or somehow brought to life because they’ve not been made tangible. This has been my experience and I see it happen repeatedly with both individual and business clients.
So my request of you is to value all of it and use this system. Its simple, its enjoyable and its a great beginning to your lifelong creative habit.
Heck, maybe there’s a “creativity box” photo contest opportunity here? Gotta run..need to get the idea written down and into my box!