Taking and Telling the Time

Ever noticed that humans are the only creatures that care what time it is?  We’re the only species that have clocks and calendars and the only ones that obsess about times and dates.  That might have some universal benefits, but I think our obsession with deadlines and punctuality may run counter to creating great art.

Great art takes its own time to bloom.  Would the Sistine Chapel ceiling be better or worse, for having met a schedule?  Are the corners cut to make the deadline to the detriment of the artistic integrity of whatever work is being driven this way?

It’s a funny thing, but in the absence of a time piece and the cycles of the sun, unsynchronised humans tend to gravitate toward a twenty five hour day, left to their own circadian devices.  Why, then, do we compromise our art by waking on command and by stressing about how long things take (and the analogue to this:  how much they cost)?  Do we sometimes rush the work or perform sub-optimally, because we are not respecting our own cycles of wakefulness and creativity, as well as the time it takes for great art to percolate as an idea, before any execution takes place?

Sometimes a little deadline pressure can be motivating.  It heightens focus.  On the other hand, constant sprinting is detrimental to your health and creativity, if you are running an endless marathon.  When there is no end to the pressure and stress, it just dries your creativity and productivity up.  Nobody can remain in a heightened sense of urgency indefinitely.  Artificially inventing a sense of urgency, the whole time, in the wrong-headed belief that this is the most efficient or most productive path, is actually both destructive and wasteful.

Part of the secret to succeeding, as a creative human being, is showing up to do your art regularly.  You do have to put in the hours and you need to do it with some regularity.  However, if it becomes drudgery, it shows in the quality of your work.  Your art gets stale and very predictable.  The joy is gone.

However, filling the available time with indecision, dithering, displacement activity, overworking, reworking, self-doubt, denial of your own competence and other negative things doesn’t help your creativity or the quality of your work, either.

I think the secret lies in using timepieces and deadlines when they help you, but to avoid them when they don’t.

About tropicaltheartist

You can find out more about me here: https://michaeltopic.wordpress.com/. There aren’t many people that exist in that conjunction of art, design, science and engineering, but this is where I live. I am an artist, a musician, a designer, a creator, a scientist, a technologist, an innovator and an engineer and I have a genuine, deep passion for each field. Most importantly, I am able to see the connections and similarities between each field of intellectual endeavour and apply the lessons I learn in one discipline to my other disciplines. To me, they are all part of the same continuum of creativity. I write about what I know, through my blogs, in the hope that something I write will resonate with a reader and help them enjoy their own creative life more fully. I am, in summary, a highly creative individual, but with the ability to get things done efficiently. Not all of these skills are valued by the world at large, but I am who I am and this is me. The opinions stated here are my own and not necessarily the opinion or position of my employer.
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2 Responses to Taking and Telling the Time

  1. susangeckle says:

    I like what you said about letting ideas percolate. A lot of people don’t realize artists have to do that. That’s what seperates an artist from being a factory worker.

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