Whilst I wait for replies to my last blog post, I’ve been bingeing on podcasts and documentaries. There is a lot of dross out there, but, when you find a good series, it’s like hitting gold dust.
Two series in particular have struck home. The Art of Design is a Netflix series about … yup, design. One episode features the German illustrator Christoph Niemann. He quotes the artist Chuck Close: “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work”.
In a stereotypically German way, Niemann uses this quote as a mantra for his working day. He turns up at his studio every morning at 9 am and commits to being there till 6 pm. He sits down at his desk with a pencil and a plain piece of paper and starts drawing. Even if he has no ideas, he forces himself to just put pen to paper. It helps him to take the stress out of an impending deadline because he breaks it down into steps. 1. Show up in studio 2. Get to work. 3. As he says “Then just hope for the best”. Clearly his best is pretty bloody good given that he’s done more than 20 front covers for the New Yorker, but I like his approach.
It’s perhaps a major reason why I’ve never tried to come up with a business idea before because I am inherently lazy. In the past, I would have baulked at the idea of setting aside time just to think. But now, I have six hours a day when the kids are at school. Six hours that I can do something with. No excuses; no dawdling on what’s app, no daytime TV, no coffees with lovely friends (Ok maybe a few). Just concentrated, focused thinking and acting on my future.
And second, I’m listening to a fantastic podcast series called Conversations of Inspiration by Holly Tucker (co-founder of Not on the High Street). In one episode she interviews Andy Poplar (founder of Vinegar and Brown Paper) who I reference on my home page. Years ago, Poplar’s hand was forced. He had a mental breakdown and had no choice but to ditch his job as a copywriter in London. He had no idea what to do with his life, but he started a practice called Daily Pages. It’s a simple plan. Write three pages of your thoughts in a book every day. Don’t overthink it. Don’t set any goals. Just write. It’s for your eyes only so it stops you self-editing as you write. I’m hoping it will help me to drill down into the ideas that are starting to rattle around in my brain.
So here are two actions I’m committing to for the next week
- Think about / develop ideas every day between 9.30-3
- Write 3 Daily pages every day.