Creativity is as much a muscle as writing is, which is as much a muscle as that tennis ball that emerges from Mr. T’s left arm is. And similar to the way in which Colin Nissan describes the writing muscle, the creative muscle isn’t much larger than a hamstring or conversely, smaller than a bicep. But it needs to be worked out in order to perform as the alpha-most version of itself.
The thing about working out your creative muscle is that unlike with writing (which requires reading to improve) or the anatomical tissue that you might choose to muster (which requires all sorts of weird movements with your arms and legs), the creative workout isn’t about what you do — it’s about what you don’t do.
I only came to understand this last Friday, on day 3 of a relatively impromptu vacation to St. Barths, with my per-man-friend, at the hand of Wimco Villas, while I was sitting on a near-deserted beach — the only thing partitioning my ass from what seemed like infinite grains of sand, a paltry sarong — with a glass of white wine by my side and the emphatically clear and brightly blue ocean’s crashing waves whispering like a mother’s lullaby into her child’s ears. But I wasn’t paying attention to the lullaby, drinking that glass of wine (at least not yet), or even cognizant of the slice of chiffon that stood between me and the sand.
I was maniacally typing notes into my iPhone — and doing it jovially at that.
About what? Who cares. Maybe Kim Kardashian’s Vogue cover? The manifold ways to wear a ribbon? The end of trends? Generation Z? Whether a style chameleon is in style? But that’s the thing — it didn’t matter. It still kind of doesn’t, but I was doing it, and the ideas were flowing like root beer at a teen club. And that’s just it.
If I’m going to be really honest with myself, I was starting to worry that I’d plateaued. Like in that episode of Sex and The City when Samantha becomes convinced she’d reached her sexual climax and could no longer orgasm, I was sure I’d reached my literary climax (no matter how diminutive and trivial it may have been) and could no longer produce the stories that, you know, got me off, or at least kept me capable of producing.
I hadn’t felt this creatively charged since the last time I took a vacation — a real, intended break from work. It was refreshing to feel so new again. Like my ideas had married other ideas and procreated to produce new, original progeny which was only now beginning to surface and elicit that intrinsic pit of excitement that typically only comes in the wake of a good (no matter how bad it is) idea.
Now, I’m no master of deductive reasoning but I do believe the top down logic would suggest that vacation = good for creativity, which, of course, isn’t to say that you need to high tail it over to the Caribbean. But maybe you should take staycations more seriously. Marvel in the time you spend with your private consciousness and don’t worry about what you’re thinking — just think.