Chew on Your Art

I was flipping through John Cleese’s book Creativity and I was struck by something he said: 

When you’ve eaten, your body will digest the meal for you. There is simply no way you can help it by trying to become conscious of the digestive process. 

Mr. Cleese was speaking of how the unconscious mind continues to work on problems even after you’ve consciously put them to bed. You can’t will them to work faster. Just like you can’t hurry along your digestion. The process takes time. 

You have to trust your gut. Literally. 

You can’t think your way into being creative. It’s something that will happen given the right amount of time and the proper environment. Often I will leave a problem dangling in my work. If I continue hammering my head against it, what comes out will feel false and contrives. 

Yet, if I let it digest a little, a few hours or a day, then new ideas spring to life. Maybe these solutions aren’t the best, but the blockage is gone and I can continue working. 

Mr. Cleese offers another great example with the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon. 

When you can’t remember a name, and you chase after it in your mind, and you find you just cannot recall it… and then a few moments later, when you’re thinking about something else, the name pops into your mind.

Your mind is a truly marvelous machine. Let it do its work and don’t rush the process. What was it that our moms told us at dinner: Chew your food?

Savor the process and let your unconscious digest your ideas.

Bon appetit. 

Tim

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