I was so inspired last week by the discovery of the podcast Hurry Slowly, which is about becoming more creative, productive and resilient by the act of slowing down. 2017 has been the first full year I’ve been a full-time, working-from-home freelancer, and that shift has provoked a lot of thoughts about how I balance the use of technology, make time for things that matter, and dim the damn noise. Meaning this podcast is up all my alleys!
I’ve only listened to a couple episodes of the podcast so far (Ann Friedman’s was also super great), but the one that’s stuck with me the most was the interview with Austin Kleon, one of my favourite writers/makers/creatives. Their discussion was all about analog vs. digital technologies, and how they use each depending on what they are creating.
And although I make ample use of both analog and digital forms in my everyday, I’d never really thought about it in quite the way they were discussing – that some types of thinking and creating are better suited to a pen and paper. In some ways, even hearing other creative people affirm that using a Sharpie on a big sheet of paper can help you think differently really gave me the permission to own and embrace that idea and put it into practice more often.
This weekend, up north and surrounded by beautiful snowy fields, my friend Sonja and I mapped out all of 2018 for her business, Nurture. As her assistant, the mapping was relevant to me too! Luckily, I had packed the bigger sheets of paper and my markers, and I think it made a big difference. Once it was down on paper, we could move things around, see everything at a glance, and interact with the ideas in a more tangible way. It was less stressful than planning on a digital screen or calendar, and ended up being really fun and energizing.
In the interview, Austin says (at minute 33):
“It’s the act of drawing itself that is so valuable, because it’s in the process of drawing things that you really start to understand them.”
And although I’m not always drawing, I think the same holds true for writing, mapping, planning, sketching, and dreaming. Sometimes you need to write it down to make it real. Sometimes you need to write it down to actually absorb it. Sometimes you need to write it down to unlock something in your brain.
What kinds of things do you do on pen and paper? What tasks do you do on the computer? Is there anything that needs to ‘switch forms’?
PS. This reminds me of a very old post I once wrote about the magic of writing things down. Do I just learn the same things over and over? (Yes.) (Please don’t mock me for the hilarity of that post.)