Creating Off the Grid

Garr Reynolds writes about “going analog” during the beginning process of creating. In his June 17th post, Creativity, nature, & getting off the grid, he even shares a one-minute video of his favorite “off the grid” location, which is on the coast of Oregon.

I’ve been thinking about that for the past few days as I’ve kayaked on Long Island Sound, just out of Mamaroneck Harbor.

Otter Creek, behind our house, is a tidal creek that serpentines out to Mamaroneck Harbor:

Some of the many types of birds and water fowl that hang out on the rocks:

Long Island Sound, facing Long Island – Larchmont, New Rochelle, and eventually NYC to the right; Rye and Greenwich to the left:

Greeted by an egret upon returning to Otter Creek (yes, it’s said there used to be otters swimming in this creek):

There’s no doubt that my most creative thinking happens when I am not thinking about the topic in question. While that could be during any number of activities, it typically seems to be during recreational moments, such as kayaking or lap swimming or taking long walks. Interestingly, when I’m fully engaged in yoga, the breathing has me so focused that there is no room in my brain for any other thoughts to enter. The same is true for when I’m drawing or sketching; I am so absorbed in the process that my brain silences all other thoughts.

The June/July 2008 issue of Scientific American Mind includes a panel interview with three people who focus on creativity: John Houtz, psychologist and professor; Julia Cameron, poet, playwright and filmmaker; and Robert Epstein, former editor of Psychology Today and currently a visiting scholar. How to Unleash Your Creativity is an interesting discussion between the three of them and interviewer Mariette DiChristina, executive editor of Scientific American and Scientific American Mind.

Each of these individuals has similar approaches to stimulating their creativity, and all of them seem to get off the grid, meaning they walk away from whatever it is they are thinking about. They “take breaks and learn to use them strategically; use daydreams as sources of new ideas.”

I spend a lot of time using my computer, not only related to school but also writing and blogging, and communicating with friends and family via email, iChat or web pages. In this past year much has been written in the press about email and related technology information overload; it’s even become a big topic on the tech listservs I read.

The solution – Get Off the Grid. It’s not quite as easy as it sounds, but for those who manage to do it, I’m willing to bet all sorts of interesting ideas will pop into your head.


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