The Paradox(es) of Creativity

I find I'm most creative when:

  • I have plenty of time or no time at all
  • I'm in a great mood or really terrible mood 
  • I know the project backwards and forwards or when I'm brand new to the material  
  • I'm wide awake or really sleepy 
  • I'm bored or inspired 
  • I'm working on the first idea or the 87th idea  

In other words, I'm most creative at the extremes. The edges provide the inspiration, energy, and insight that creativity requires. The ends of the spectrum are where the self-editing walls come down and delight is found. In the absence of gray, the answers are clearest.

But just like the normal distribution curve of statistics, the in-between covers the largest area between the ends. So, how do I get to the ends authentically, without drama, without trickery?  

It's mostly in my head.

An attitude of anticipation towards the project, where I can't wait to see what I come up with, plays a huge role in moving me closer to the edges where I'm most creative. Getting there has taken time. And persistence. And learning how to gauge my creative mood swings. When the moment's not right for creativity, that's a great time for paperwork and chores, or for tuning into my inspirational sources. 

"Conditions for creativity are to be puzzled; to concentrate; to accept conflict and tension; to be born everyday; to feel a sense of self." Erich Fromm

When do you find you're most creative? How do you get yourself to that space, if you're not already there?