March 30, 2010

Creative Role: The Slow Cooker


There is always a rush to make things—a desire for the instant gratification that creating can bring. This will likely always be the case, as our world dialogue spins around “attention spans shrinking” and the “cost of entry lessening.” But what if the fast and furious way of making was coupled with a slow and gradual path?

One such example is the Norwegian folk-pop duo Kings of Convenience, who take a “leisurely pace” in releasing their albums:
“It was a really long and slow process. It reflects the way we work with song writing, we tend to receive an idea from somewhere—we’ll call it inspiration. So that’s a few lines, some words, a melody and some chords. And then the time it takes for that little idea to become a full song can sometimes be a period of two or three, even four years. And also recording takes even longer. The way we record is mostly live. Both of us play together, both guitars and we sing together. To be able to capture the right mood of the song, and play it really well and groovy at the same time, is really hard. We need like twenty takes to capture a song on tape.”
The band’s resulting numbers—four years, 20 takes—sound extreme but they vary. Everyone’s creative process is different. The total time taken to make something is not as important as the progression toward it; the time attending to creating, leaving it unattended, and then coming back to it again. These tasks and times all collectively accrue toward a state qualified to get the creation “out there.”

Slowly creating something doesn’t necessarily mean a long dramatic pause before finally sharing it. The part of making is happening. Persisting in the making is the hard part. Creativity can be an activity provoked and massaged (re-provoked, re-massaged) over time. It can be a long journey. Because slow was never meant to be easy, like its partner in making. As the slow-cook commandment goes, “Make it fast. Cook it slow.”

Tap into your inner slow cooker.

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This is the first piece of a series focused on the lively cast of characters whose roles make the play of Creativity. For the next Creative Role in this series, meet the Like-Minder.


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Typographic illustration, tailormade for this series, was done by Shawn HazenRead his Designer’s Quest(ionnaire).

Thank you for viewing.

Joe said...

definitely a good philosophy when it comes to inspiration/creativity. it never helps to rush things..

Eleanor said...

Wow. This post was really timely for me. I've been stressing myself out beyond belief trying to 'ship' as much as I possibly can these days. I generally agree with the 'ship often' philosophy (which I think Seth Godin talks a lot about in his most recent book) but lately it's been sucking the joy out of my creative process.

In theory I am a total believer in 'slow' - slow living, slow food, etc. However I'm finding it really hard to put into practice. One technique I'm finding helpful (from a podcast from the guy who wrote 'Create Great Work' or something like that) is to use one space to do my design work, and another one to check emails, do admin stuff, etc.

I like Kings of Convenience (didn't realized they are from Norway!) so if slow is good enough for them, it should be good enough for the rest of us.