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The Creative Process: Conditions

Inspired by my recent theoretical work, I’d like to dedicate a series of posts to the creative process.

The first idea I’d like to discuss is which conditions you need for creative work? Before you get started on developing a new theory, or developing a new design, it is necessary to reflect on what we need for creativity.

In my opinion, you need very little to deliver creative work. As Feynman discussed, you don’t need a cabin in the woods and all the time in the world to come up with good ideas.

Now let’s look at what I think you need to push forward creative work:

1. Scheduled time

You don’t need all the time in the world; I think 2 hours of undisturbed time in your planning can be enough. The key here is to claim that time, free up your schedule and plan those 2 hours – and use that time to the maximum. Use it for creative work, don’t start using the “free” time to clean out your mailbox, or catch up on administration work.

2. Comfort

You don’t need a cabin in the woods, but to help yourself getting into the right zone, you might like to sharpen your pencil, have space on your desk, have all material ready, a cup of coffee and music to block out the (lab) noise.

3. Mindset

For creative work, your mindset is key. I had been building up quite some tension with regard to my theoretical work – in fact, I hadn’t been doing anything yet since all my time was devoted to experimental work, and my promotor had conveyed the message I really had to get started on it because it would take a long time and a lot of effort and searching and frustration. The mere thought of all that brought me panic and lots of impostor thoughts.

Then, I decided to turn around my entire mindset. I thought to myself: “I am just going to answer a question.” My entire chapter 6 is the result of a smart question of my co-promotor, which I decided to flesh out completely. So, for my theoretical work, I decided to ask myself questions, and answer them, and if the answer would bring up another question, then I’d continue with answering that question.

Changing my mindset took away most of the pressure I was feeling, and it woke up my curious inner child.

Which conditions do you think are necessary for creative work? I’d love to hear about your experiences!

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This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Hi Eva! Sorry, I still don't have comments about my mindset and how to find inspiration. As you described, I have spent a long time developing experiments and field work, and now I am getting back to the written results, literature review, theoretical framework and so forth. I just decided to write a comment here because I am at that stage where I absolutely love to read advice on the PhD process, so thank you! I just discovered your blog, but will be here frequently! Cheers

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