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Monday, January 09, 2006


The Dreaded Dip

The truth is, I have nothing to write about today. I am deeply uninspired. My mind is as lively as a slice of Wonderbread. And in my quest to provide the truth about giftedness, I'm gonna tell you all about it, you lucky lucky reader.

I've followed some of the news, and I don't feel like talking about that. I refuse to talk about the weather. I've been reading C.G. Jung and Joseph Campbell, and even a book by the wonderful Keith Johnstone that is new to me, and still nothing to say. Nothing bubbling up from the well of creativity. Zip. Nada.

For me, periods of extreme creative joy are always followed by periods of self-loathing and indolence, rinse, repeat ad infinitum. In this time, I usually hole up and read all the books I've been meaning to get to, and also clean up my office and do my accounting. So whilst these times are actually quite productive, I usually feel like the world's biggest slug, terrified I'm going to get busted. I am creating nothing! Execution looms!

Yet, all the reading I have done about creativity and talent development tend to skip blithely over the dips, giving the false impression that you can be creative and fulfilled 100% of the time. The really scary part of this is that the establishment educators haven't noticed that dips are a normal part of life for creative people, and push for constant progress at all times. I can deny the reality and work through it, and make sales calls and write proposals anyway, but from experience I know the best thing to do is go through the funk wholeheartedly and come out the other side.

And before you write and tell me, I know this post is not funny. Oh yes.

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Sounds about right. I used to relate it to race horses verus plow horses. You know, a race horse needs a special diet, protection from drafts, must train towards a particular goal, and then has his or her very short moment in the sun, a burst of power and competitiveness: race day. After that, a good reward is needed. A period of rest and recuperation.

Plow horses, on the other hand, eat a constant diet of hay and crud. They are used to severe blows and weather them well with their sturdy bones. Plow horses are consistent: day after day after day, they continue to plow. They are reliable, but they lack flair. They are not speed horses, driven by the challenge of winning. They are happy with preditability and do not find any joy in galloping. Walking is what they do best.

On the other hand, I find that varying the challenge -- from the physical to the mental and back -- can prevent a slump of any great sort.

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