Containers and Deadlines

Day 40 Week 6 Q1  Thursday, February 9, 2023

The digital world has somewhat obliterated these two useful constraints for the creative process. We used to buy albums, books, and newspapers filled with music and words. These handy containers were tangible manifestations of the creative process that creative outliers relied upon to complete, align, and package bodies of work, and they still exist. Still, more and more people are moving toward digital packages of content.  Additionally, product designers used to have annual or semiannual events called tradeshows where new products were introduced, and orders were taken. Armies of creative outliers efforts were impacted by these containers and deadlines. 

This special population shares an appetite for creation, often bordering on involuntary. We simply have to create, which is part of our identity, and to be true to ourselves; we do it incessantly. Having some guard rails for creativity, also called constraints, can, to some degree, manage the crazy-making we are capable of driving toward. We knew when we were done and when we had to be done. This permitted scheduling vacations, being civilized and other activities normal people engage in.

What happens when creative outliers no longer have constraints? Productivity can go up, and working conditions can go down. All creators know that the creative process benefits from constraints. And without having natural boundaries like mountains, rivers and oceans, imagine how difficult it would be to tell where one nation began and its neighbors end. We already have a lot of wars and invasions even with these natural boundaries, but what if they all vanished? Or what would happen if the sun did not rise and set in a predictable manner to separate day and night?

This is where some creative outliers find themselves, and it is not a good place to be because it is not sustainable. I myself used to belong to the boogie till you drop group, and I can tell you it is not so good for relationships or general health. Having boundaries between day and night, nation A and nation B, the 2023 season and the 2022 season, and other containers, boundaries and deadlines is very helpful in that communities of creators can support each other’s cycles. Periodicity is not a bad thing. 

Another way to gain support, reminders, and constraints is through like-minded individuals working together in some sort of community. There is a rub, though, and that is outliers do not tend to be joiners. They tend to be “go-it-aloners”, and for a good reason. We do not like repetition too much. We like to do things in different ways at different times and more so than “normal folks.” We tend toward diversity more than uniformity. 

This is why creative flywheels work so well. They are based on the premise that extremely creative people understand each other better than those who are less creative. And therefore, they can more effectively appreciate, respect and acknowledge each other and each other’s creative processes.

We become each other’s virtual containers and deadlines.