Creativity + Efficiency. They don’t always walk hand in hand. Most times, one would step ahead of the other.
Like during a stroll in the park, Creativity might run wild, taking pictures of every duck that crosses their path, while Efficiency’s trying to explain that they need to leave right that second to make their dinner reservations.
Or like the times Efficiency rings the doorbell at quarter to 3 when Creativity specifically says the pasta and dessert won’t be done ’til 5.
You get the picture.
So to better marry the two, when we sit down to write — or work on other crafts — we can ask invite duo to come along:
Focus & Structure
Focus first helps us not only figure out what we want to do but also makes sure we’re on the right track. Without Focus, our ten minutes of writing might very well slip away, and we can’t blame these moments on the Muse’s absence.
This doesn’t necessarily require meticulous detail. Instead, Focus can be as simple as “I’m going to write the first thing that comes to mind and follow it through” or “I’m working on the end scene for my sci-fi WIP on alien zombies abducting ballerinas.”
Whatever the Focus, remind yourself what it is whenever you get stuck in the middle of a writing session. And if you want to switch Focus at a certain point, go for it! As long as you know what you want to write, write it.
Structure, on the other hand, looks like an open-minded outline.
I hear you over there.
Pantser: I can’t be tamed by this— this— thing you call an outline!
Plotter: Absolutely not! We shan’t compromise the plot with this “open-minded” nonsense!
Let me explain. Though art embraces happy coincidences, Structure gives us a place where we can relate with those who view it. Plus, an outline provides the skeletal base for the artist to expand that particular work.
Take water, for example. We have no control over how it takes shape EXCEPT when it’s in a container. The container doesn’t change the contents but allows it to be held, to be seen. If we’d like others to appreciate our work, Structure provides this point of connection.
The beauty of a mess is its Structure, while the fun lies in finding all the ways you can bend the rules before they break. Win-win, baby. (Vivien Reis explains this concept much better than I can in this video.)
So during your next creative session, consider letting Creativity and Efficiency go on a double date with Focus and Structure. They just might enjoy each other’s company.
Am I taking this extended metaphor too far? Maybe. But I’ll just let the couples mingle as they may. 😉
What strategies do you use to balance efficiency + creativity during your writing sessions? Share in the comments below, lovely.