Successful Inefficiency

I live and work in a house with many stairs. Four levels, in fact. Granted, they are short levels, half-stories, but still…

A friend recently spent the day with me. One of our conversations when something like this.


Her: (Seeing me run up the stairs with a single item in my hand – again.) You sure have to go up and down a lot.

            Me: I know.

Her: (Perplexed.) And you leave a single item on the stairs. Why is that?

            Me: So I take it up with me the next time I go up.

Her: (Looking quite satisfied with herself.) You need one of those thingies, you know, the basket that sits on the stairs. Then you can put everything in one basket and make only one trip.

            Me: (Questioning confusion on my face.) Then how would I get my steps in everyday?


Yes, it’s inefficient to run up and down each time I need something. (Hold on, I need to fill my water glass. Be right back…)

Where was I? Oh yes. Inefficient to take the extra trips. But then I get steps on my pedometer, and that serves a daily goal.

How does this apply to creativity? Successful inefficiency means concentrating on one thing at a time in your creative process. Writers often hear we should turn off social media, because it’s a distraction. Musicians, don’t listen to someone else’s music while you’re in the midst of your own composition. Artists, don’t change mediums midstream unless you’ve hit a creative wall.

These are all versions of the same issue.

“Oh look, a bright shiny thing!” (aka, distraction)

I suffer from this. Many others do as well. My strategies to avoid it are unique to me (and probably a good subject for another posting) but I do want to tell you why it’s important.

BE INEFFICIENT. Concentrate on one thing. Your creative muse will thank you.

Your muse clamors for attention, and she/he/it can be a real b**** when ignored. Giving your muse your undivided attention means you have an opportunity to work through your idea fully.

Chase the bright shiny thing, and you have wasted valuable creative time (which none of us have enough of). Not only that, you have lost your creative impetus, and sometimes it’s nearly impossible to get it back. In other words, take a few minutes to check your messages, and it might take you an hour to get back in the flow of what you were doing.

So just say NO to bright, shiny things. Say it with the same passion and fervency you use to say YES to your craft. Your muse might thank you with even more goodness and inspiration!

How do you avoid distractions during your creative process? We can all learn from your experiences, so please share!


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