Creative Thinking

Posted by Suzi | September 21, 2012

The process of creativity is notoriously mysterious. Yet, the more I get to know that side of my brain- the more I realise what makes it tick. And, well also, let’s be honest, the things I do that causes it to stick a metaphorical middle finger up at me.

I used to go about my work with as much gentleness on myself as an 18th century West Indian factory worker could expect from his colonist boss. ”Tired?! *Cracks whip* You’re slacking.” “Can’t think? *Shakes fist* Think!” ”Daydreaming? *Stamps foot* You clown!” I wholly believed that the more pressurised, driven and tense I felt, the better my work would be.

With all due respect to deadlines (I live my life with them and appreciate they are important for the general order of the world) the thing about doing something as sensitive and  unique as creating, is that a burnout approach is just completely hopeless. I  always- and it is really always, not even often- have my best ideas when I’m not behind a desk.

In fact, usually, it’s whilst doing something completely random. I once spent weeks and weeks staring at a piece of work, slogging away, knowing it wasn’t quite right. Then I got on a plane to go to holiday and, pop, suddenly the answer was there. So obvious! All I wanted to do was rush and get it all down. In moments like that I find I can achieve more in an hour than a week of toiling.

It doesn’t even have to be work related. I know some of you are sitting back right now yawning: “Oh, yes, but I’m not creative!” The thing is we all are- you, me, that guy sitting behind you on the train right now. It could be as simple as thinking how you’re going to manage your day, or getting out of a sticky situation. When you just step away for a minute, dull the anxiety, the right answer normally lands effortlessly at your feet.

For centuries – perhaps ever since we became able to think about thinking- people have speculated as to why, the credit normally being dished out to the gods and spirits or, more recently,  the subconscious mind. Personally, I think, that for whatever reason, in the deepest of our hearts the right answer is always there; sitting quietly, behind the business and distraction, just waiting for you to see it.

I’ve thus tried firing my inner slave-driver but he’s not taking it too well (often screeching things like “You’ll be nothing without me!” or “Have you seen what you have to do by Tues?!”) So I’m just demoting him- nodding, smiling, thanking him for concern then turning my work over to the other side of my brain. It’s then I know something magical will then happen…



Picture credits from left: Blossom by Janis Nicolay;, Life is beautiful; Scrap book page;, Dream;, Tent;, Rest quote by John Lubbock;, Seagulls/folded arms, Girl thinking;, book;






  1. Gorgeous- I’m so inspired to have a completely non-work related weekend now !

    Comment by Tara Wellings — September 21, 2012 #

  2. I love taking time to myself – it’s always when the best ideas come along.

    Comment by Abi — October 23, 2012 #

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Sydney Interior Designer, Suzi Boyle, Editorial branding, Interior Sourcing in Sydney and London