There’s a lot about the transition from high school to college to the workforce that we don’t ever talk about. In my last blog post, I wrote about some career-focused issues. But lately, I’ve been thinking about how our educational structure affects something more integral to human nature: creativity.
Now that I’m a year into my career, I’ve more or less developed a routine. Strangely enough, it’s basically the same routine I had in high school: go to work for 8-9 hours, come home, eat and read or watch Netflix.
The major difference that kind of frightens me is this: I haven’t written a poem in two years.
So what happened? Did college beat the creativity out of me? Or, more frightening: am I just less creative than I was at 16?
These questions worried me for awhile, but I think I finally figured it out: I lost my unstructured creative time. In high school, I often finished my work quickly and had lots of spare class time. And if you’re bored in a quiet classroom, there’s not a lot to do but put pen to paper. My boredom and those restraints beget creativity.
We now know how important unstructured time is to creativity, for kids and adults alike. Fast Company has about a million articles on this topic. And for someone like me, who thinks more analytically than creatively, creative ideas don’t just hit me during the course of a normal day. I have to practice coming up with ideas, which is exactly what my bored time in class allowed me to do.
When I had that bored class time, I was a more creative individual overall. I would get excited about a poem I was working on in class and bring it home. I would start a doodle in my notebook, then recreate it in GIMP (that’s before I could afford Photoshop). Poems would become songs, and I would spend hours working out the chords and playing with harmonies.
Now, I don’t have that bored time during my workday. Instead, I have to carve out my own creative time, and make it a habit.
If you too need to reclaim your creative space, here are some things I plan to try that you may find helpful:
- Spend one morning a week at a coffee shop with no laptop.
- Limit my weekday Netflix viewing to one hour.
- Use some of my lunch time to listen to music and write.
- Start journaling again — maybe in the evening before bed.
- Walk to pick up my mail instead of driving.