I've been thinking a lot lately about structure. Structure is very important in my job. On a daily basis I am managing client accounts, editing videos, and writing scripts. Without my project management software, dedicated file paths, and operational processes in place things would break down and we would lose track of client assets as well as the vision for what we do. Structure helps us be productive.
At the same time I work in a creative field. There is an expectation upon me to produce original and out of the box ideas. These expectations come from my boss, our clients, and myself (have you caught on that I am "Team Oxford Comma" yet?). Putting my headspace in too rigid or restrained of a mold would be detrimental to my creative process. This is how I justify my desk being as messy as it is.
A lot comes down to not only what you want to produce but how you want to work. And herein lies the paradox. I'm starting to believe that the more boundaries and fences I build for myself the more productive I will be. And that the quality of what I produce will increase as well. This is, in its essence, the constant struggle between brash, uninhibited creation and purposefully and meaningfully applying yourself.
Jack White gave an amazing interview with Conan O'Brien about the nature of creativity. In it he talked about the idea of imposing limitations on yourself in order to be more creative. Essentially putting yourself in a box. For him it was recording on analogue, avoiding the ease of digital technology. In doing so you help avoid the paralyzing blank page syndrome of "I can literally do anything" and start to build off of "what can I do with this?"
When I first started working for the company I'm currently with it was just me and the business owner. I had recently graduated from a very strict private college (shave every day, wear a tie, etc. etc.) and he had left the corporate world in order to start his own business. Neither of us was interested in rules and processes. We wanted that millennial work environment where everyone sits around and drinks lattes and work is magically done without once using the word "synergy." But we found quickly that without some sort of structure, business fell apart. So we embraced the idea of making rules but making them the way we wanted them. Now we know who does what when it needs to get done. And the business is thriving.
How then might incorporating more structure into my daily life be beneficial? Just the thought of mapping out when I wake, eat, write, sleep, and revise gives me a headache. But I also know that some order is due in my life and by making the time to write, I will write 100% more than during the time I didn't make to write. Slap that on a motivational poster.
I've started playing with form more. Putting rhymes into my poems and building the shape of them to be visually appealing. Using paper and pen instead of typing on my iPhone or computer (#pagesnothyperlinks). Living with typos and confining myself to the length and width of my journal pages. These are small ways I can re-write the rules of what structure means to me. What box I want to build around myself. And in doing so I've seen limitations become opportunities. New ideas spring from pre-meditated rejection of old ones. It's been exciting and challenging.
Does structure appeal to you? Does setting aside a quiet hour every day to be creative help you or is it a box that puts too much pressure on your expression. The pressure to perform or produce. I know for myself I don't have a definitive answer to that question yet, which makes it perfect for some exploration.
Edit: This blog post was written in my browser, which crashed the first time I went to save it and erased all my work. I should have structured my saves better...