Creativity, memory and our relationship with time
As a teenager, productivity and that idea of romitazing whatever you do is exhausting. The ideal of an it girl is never possible, I hated so much when i did not finished and assigment, or I did not stand up from my bed. Excellent article. 😊
I was walking in the woods with two friends yesterday talking about procrastination and how it means different things to neurotypical and neurodivergent people. To NTs it’s a failing and used as a bat to beat NDs who are already beating up themselves (with internalised NT ‘standards’). Sweeping into a nutshell: NTs procrastinate things they don’t want to do while NDs procrastinate that plus the things they DO want to do (Pathological Demand Avoidance can be crippling.) I can clear the time and space to do The Thing I’m gagging to do and still not do The Thing.
Time guilt - wow - I’ll add that to my vocabulary! Exactly this. (Maybe some NTs procrastinate doing things they do want to do under the yoke of time guilt...)
Distraction is not just an accident, or a sign of a weak mind as our old teachers would imply but it’s brain food. I actively seek distraction from the boring stuff to save my mind from calcifying. Admittedly I don’t get as much growd-up stuff done per day as I meant to, but I’m still alive...
Sorry for the rambling. I’ve just signed up to Substack and am probably showing off (when I really should be making lunch, pegging out the washing, doing some work... d’oh)
A lovely piece of writing on the serendipity of creative work! Other artists? Christian Marclay, of course. https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/marclay-the-clock-t14038.
There’s a sense of irony that I’ve been distracted with other things for a while and came back to substack to read this post 😊
I liked the quote in your piece from Rubin about the difference between procrastination and distraction. I’ve always thought of the thoughts we have that interrupt what we are doing as moments of creative drifting.
Distraction is purposeful too, it can be used as a coping mechanism to handle strong emotions - a healthy response (why anxiety can be managed with distraction counting).
It’s funny though how speed and time are valued in different contexts, speed of service can = quality, whereas slow creation can also = quality production. Time is so subjective 😊
I completely relate to this! And very timely. Right now I've hit the doing nothing point by over-working and always forget that it's usually where all the good ideas are. Weirdly I also read an article today about procrastination being the way to prolific output. with a number of examples of writers and painters who worked like this. (I like that idea too!) Books are piling up here but this one is going on my list too.
Wow, this made so much sense to me! I have never really made the connection between time, distraction and creativity before, thinking more along the lines of putting hurdles in front of my creativity in the form of procrastination. But your post here makes a lot of sense to me: when I have taken time out to do something entirely different is when I have often had the clearest flashes of inspiration, particularly on creative ideas I've been struggling with. I will be giving this more thought in the coming weeks - thank you for sharing these ideas!
Brilliant ! - I started reading yesterday, and then disappeared down a long rabbit hole investigating Sarah Sze, who I'd not heard of before. She's an artist who sits right in the middle of some research I'm doing concerning the collision of paintings and videos. So, thanks so much for writing about her.
I loved this and I really resonated. I often try to let my subconscious do it’s work, and leave things to get worked out in that way. I am also very much in the time guilt camp.
Some days, it truly is.
Social media and FOMO create so much stress regarding "productivity" and "doing, doing, going, doing." Add to that the myth that capitalism foists upon us regarding this productivity stuff. It's madness. The brain needs down time to do what it does best, solve the mysteries. As I am typing this, I'm about 5 days in on not doing. Disclaimer, that doing nothing will be coming to an end later this week and then it's back in the studio.
Absolutely loved this one, Victoria. I have so many plans to do creative things, but always feel like I can't because I've got to prioritise other things, including making income. The time guilt I have is off the scale. I've ordered the Rebecca Struthers book on the history of timekeeping, thanks for that wonderful introduction. And I'm planning to go and see the Sarah Sze installation in London - sounds fantastic!
For artists of all types the productivity treadmill is a heavy blanket that stifles. But for most it is necessary to make that money to live in todays world. For me choosing not to have children was one way I bought myself more space and freedom to explore my creativity. And committing to a decidedly less affluent lifestyle. And while this has definitely benefited my art, it would be much harder to accomplish now. Studio space, supplies, rent, food- everything- was reachable. No more. So what kind of artists will this new era produce?
How wonderful that I’m listening to this on my way to a distraction, having said “fuck it” to productivity. I no longer feel guilty :)
Also lovely to hear more about your own writing / creative process. I tend to think that to writing happens all day long. I like the way you talk about filtering and layers as well as the purpose of doing nothing.