Lately I’ve been talking about how we need to focus on our work to get anything done. My friend Serdar has been following up on my musings, with discussing selecting work as triage or how we select our work carefully like a DJ. Each column is a reading-worthy videpoint.
However, I have come to dislike the triage metaphor, and in further discussions with him, came to the realization that we creatives, writers, etc. often look at limiting ourselves as bad.
We don’t want to limit ourselves. We want to tell every story, explore every nook, paint in colors no one has yet seen. We want to do it all. Creativity means a head full of infinity in a mortal frame that has to pick and choose what parts of that endlessness to let into the world.
We make it even harder because we often talk about our need to be selective and to cultivate work in negative ways. Triage. Limitation. Pairing ideas down. Killing your darlings. We come up with the most negative ways to talk about this, ensuring of course we want to do it less.
Thats the problem. So let me make a suggestion – as a creative don’t talk about choosing what work to do in the negative, find positive terms. Yes it’s a psychological trick, but by using negative terms you’ve already been tricked into seeing this as a bad thing.
Think of it as:
- Focusing on the best choices you create. You decide on what brings the most benefit and do it.
- Curating the most important works you can do. You’re like a librarian or a DJ creating a best-of for people, chosing what they truly need from your infinite repertoire of possibilities.
- Cultivating a garden of possibilities. You choose what to “grow” in your works and nurture it to life.
- Being a steward of ideas. Perhaps that means not just developing them, but also knowing when to pass ideas on to others.
So I challenge you as a creator to look at your need to focus and find the most postivie way to look at it that is still rational. Find a way to see the good in it, and you’ll be able to focus better and more effectively. In doing so, your need to make choices will be much easier.
You don’t need triage when the DJ has you dancing to the best tunes already.