Love and Discipline in Creativity

I have been in love with notebooks for years. I first started carrying one during my time at university — not for lecture notes — but for important things — ideas and inspiration. You see, I loved writing and reading … and I wanted to be able to capture great thoughts or snippets of quotes wherever I might find them. I spent a great deal of time in the library reading, in the bar and cafe watching, reading, writing (and even knitting), and my notebook became my constant companion. We were hardly ever apart. Really, it was a love affair of sorts.

Over the years, I experimented with types of notebook. There were the desk-style, leatherette varieties (with built-in calculator — whatever that was for!), there was the moleskin, the handmade, the mass produced and the ringbound. There were a range of optional extras … the brushed aluminium mini-brief case, the leather folder, the ballpoints, fountain pens, ratchet pencils, and everything in-between. Each of these artefacts drew me deeper into the world of words. Each sentence that I wrote confirmed my love.

After I had completed the first few notebooks and placed them on my shelf for reference, I realised that I was building a creative diary of my life. Almost like an autobiography of my own (often questionable) creativity. For these notebooks were pre-digital mashups — a tangle of concepts, sources, research, quotes and action points. There were to do lists, recommendations and new connections made. Reading back over these now there is a sense of excitement and fresh innovation … but also some staleness, some pretentious creativity feeding on its own cleverness.

But perhaps more important than the content written in these notebooks was the process and discipline that has served me so well ever since. You see, there is some tangible link between creativity and writing that we know or can sense, but can’t quite define. When I read a brief, I will quickly write my response and leave it, coming back later to see whether my gut instinct was on target. More often than not, this initial reaction can be easily folded back into the overall response generated by my team — and often to great effect. It seems to add a richness to the flavour of our response.

What does this have to do with social media or Web 2.0? My first post for this blog was actually written in a notebook and many of the ideas that I write about come directly from the same place. Often, if I can’t quite figure out a post I will sketch out the linkage between ideas in my notebook before starting to write a post. While it doesn’t work for everyone, it certainly does for me. And it is a wonderful discipline for any writer to employ. And if you want to give the notebook driven approach to creativity a try, The Staufenbergers have a great offer at the moment. There are TWO and only two beautiful handmade notebooks waiting for the person with the most compelling story. Get over there quicksmart!

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