4 min read

What Are Your Requirements?

At the end of high school, my friend had a co-op with a corporate event planner who was doing a show featuring the legendary Canadian rock star, Burton Cummings of The Guess Who fame.

Burton Cummings Headshot
Burton Cummings

I heard the story about how Cummings had the classic rider that involved things like green hand towels, or whatever exact colour had been specified.

In some cases, these lists of requirements are in place to test the event planners, but in general, these items are what the celebrity has deemed essential in order to put on a great show.

It had me thinking, what is in your personal rider for doing your best or most creative work?

Common advice will tell you that it’s all about your vision and your values but I will start this one by suggesting that I can’t do anything without a clean desk.

In the case of this letter I am writing it on the island in my kitchen, so I usually have to give this workspace a good wipe down before placing my writing station on it.

The Impeccable Home

I have visions of having an impeccable home one day, but in the meantime, I will have to settle for wrestling the pile of clothes that I have accrued, and waiting a day or two longer than ideal before I lug the vacuum out of the closet.

I do believe though that keeping the home as clean as you can is a good way to remove one layer of distraction. I imagine that young parents dealing with a chaotic home can only settle for focusing on their workspace first.

The clean home also links back to the idea of having a vision, because visions will come to you when your mind is settled. Meditation time can help increase visions, but also paying attention to and writing down what is coming up in your dreams is also a good place to work on visioning.

I recently went to a yoga class around Christmas for the first time in too long. Being in the studio for an hour almost always ends with some sort of wonderful idea or insight that would not bubble up to the surface otherwise.

The benefit of the yoga studio is that the room is not cluttered with objects like the home is. So I do believe that gyms and yoga studios are a place for creative thinking.

In the new(ish) movie Stutz which you can find on Netflix, I remember the psychiatrist who is the focus of the film saying something about how most problems in the mind are worked on in the body. If I’m ever in a bad space emotionally, I find that most of it is fixed using a treadmill.

Making Time

The miracle of going to a fitness class is the art of signing up and enrolment.

Left to our own devices, we are shitheads with our schedule. We don’t value a block of time until someone takes it from us. All creative work must be treated with the same respect that you treat going to a fitness studio. You signed up, you paid your bucks, and no one is going to get in your way other than physical illness or injury.

When you put guitar practice or painting on your calendar, it should be done using a metaphorical registration form. Really create that intention. The closest thing I have to this is Focusmate, because you will sign up for a block of time to work with someone on the other end. I also have a form called Clock In that I made which lets you submit what you want to work on.

Tools for Idea Capture

Yesterday I went to get some overpriced, organic snacks from my local health store and I had about 3 good beatboxes and acapellas on the way there and back. Did I record them? No, because I’m an idiot.

Don’t be the idiot that is me and make sure you write things down all the time.  The best tool for this is using the Notes app on your iPhone, and I imagine that a similar tip applies to the Android world. I then pin a note called Scratch Pad and then I can get to it easily because it’s at the top of the list.

You would be tempted to want to use Notion for this task because they make mobile apps, but I found it’s too clunky when you’re in the moment. By the same regard I use the built-in Voice Memo app on iPhone to record ideas.

When I practice guitar, even if I’m playing a piece of music that I didn’t write, I usually will have a new riff that if I’m smart enough, can be manufactured into something else later on. The voice memos is the perfect tool in this situation if my field recorder is nowhere in sight.

I do believe Notion is amazing for going through ideas later on when you’re on a desktop or iPad. But on-the-go, stick with your built-in tools which also includes the camera and video recorder too.

A Loving Attitude

I think creative work cannot exist without love. While it might help to surround yourself with people who care about you, ultimately the work is in caring for yourself and coming from a place that believes that your work is important. No one can provide this service for you.

Notice how people who do the opposite of creative work, which is destruction, most likely do not love themselves. They might try to show images that tell us otherwise as part of the game that their inflated ego plays, but at the core anyone who seeks to hurt other people does not love themselves and are ungrateful for the opportunity that consciousness provides.

I believe that creative work is a form of radical generosity. While it helps to have a clean workspace, and it helps to be surrounded by kind and loving colleagues, and it helps to have a block of time to work with, none of it can happen without the idea that you are going to share your gifts with the world regardless of the situation that is in front of you. That is how generosity takes on the quality of being radical.

What do you need in order for creative work to happen?

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