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Thomas Edison in His Lab

We have all heard the stories of how the creative Thomas Edison practically lived at his lab. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Creative people view life a little differently than does the average person. They manifest a much greater degree of commitment to their work. A notable result of this dedication is their highly selective attitude towards what they will and will not do with their time. Much more than the typical individual, they recognize that time is a limited resource and must not be squandered if something is to be accomplished.

Creative individuals do not waste energy on unsolvable problems. They do not indulge in what Virginia Woolf referred to as “woolly thinking.” To achieve this efficiency, they develop the skill to recognize what is feasible and what is not. Going back another step, they are able to acquire the ability to assess feasibility because they immerse themselves completely in their work (commitment again) and learn its parameters and boundaries with unusual thoroughness. When they decide to tackle a project, they know it is workable in the long run.

A corollary of the emphasis on time is the creative person’s unwillingness to waste time on non-essentials. Attention is a limited resource and the creative individual orders his by a kind of ascetic discipline. The latter phenomenon may really be a manifestation of the reluctance to pay attention to what is not interesting. What is interesting being anything that is intuitively or consciously sensed as benefitting the project in hand or one to come. A notable single-mindedness dominates the creator’s cerebration.

This way of thinking often affects the creative person’s very lifestyle. Clothes matter far less than they do to the more mainstream individual. Autos are optional or merely functional. Rather than prestige or comfort, proximity to other creative people or resources motivates where a creative person lives. Some creators regard food as a time waster and adopt a simple easily prepared diet.

The set of behaviours and attitudes outlined above makes up a holistic package with an obvious goal. Liberate as much time and as many resources as possible for productive creative work.

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