Oh. You don't know the three P's? Where have you been living? Well never mind, and gather round children, so that you may learn..no but seriously I know you all might actually not know what it is, and fair play, so behold:
Otherwise known...as the YouTube hole. Or the TikTok one, depending on your age. In neurological terms, it's more than feeling lazy, more than deciding not to do someething useful- despite how much it looks like this from the outside- it's not a case of not wanting to do these things: it's not being able to.
Okay, so I'll explain. And god knows I don't want to lock anyone out of the conversation but I think this may apply mostly to the creative community. I can't imagine a small business owner struggles with getting up to make a profit, unless something is up with them. For them, it's either work or pay the rent. It's the same for creatives, but the work isn't as striaghtforward as, say, retail.
For the creative, there's nowhere to be, there's no uniform and even though it's the thing you most want to do - the thought of producing 'perfect' work looms so large and so opaquely that you get to the foot of it, sit down, back against it and get out your phone. Hours pass, and you're still sitting there. Paralysed. Both pysically and creatively. Dark times.
Intruder syndrome for the creative is very real. But I think I have found a way around and away from those thoughts, avoiding the common paralysis and all the negative wasted energy that flows down and down the drain. Indulge in the procrastination/paralysis cycle without meaning to, and harmful neural pathways are formed, and you find yourself in Learned Behaviour and a vast pile of work that just doesn't get done. But I think I've found a way: a method that, in one fell swoop, sidesteps that harmful narrative, which I will share now for this Love More Challenge.
Lean into it.
But with rules. Make deals, sign imaginary contracts - to use that awful phrase Always Be Closing - and allow yourself to soak into other people's creativity like a warm bath, expunging the toxins with a loofah made out of the artform/practice you love, and float on it, until that structure that's made out of toxic thoughts, bad memories and self-doubt becomes smeg to be washed away by the freshwater stream nearby.
See how I did that? I made that stream up, I made it work for me. Sell it to yourself that you're a good writer/painter/graphic designer/musician/insert here and sign your name on the dotted line. Soon enough you'll enter into that blessed state where it got darker outside and you have no idea when the hell that happened. So to start...
Do something that doesn't feel like work. First: open YouTube - yes, that one, then: avoid any and all suggested videos (truly) next: type in 'Lacrimosa Piano' and it should be the second video down, titled 'Mozart Lacrimosa, from the Requiem - Yevgeny Sudbin' and if the bloke playing looks like Hugh Grant in 1998, you've arrived. Let it play - and just listen a moment. Mozart's Requiem is a loud, garish thing - it's an ardent and desperate worship/lamentation of the coming of Christ, usually for a 50 strong choir and orchestra to match - but here, what you listen to, is one person and their piano harnessing all that energy, finding all that light and shade. It starts off so quiet you have to strain to hear it. Listen to the first ten seconds, then start: paintbrush to paper, fingers to keyboard, mouse to PhotoShop, however you work and let the music direct your fingers:
The amazing thing about this piece is that it lies in wait until you're nice and chill and BAM, the original theme comes back with bells on. That'll wake you up out of your complacency and with time, you'll even come to anticipate it and ride the wave of endorphins, and channel it into a new sweep of the paintbrush, or a particularly epic piece of dialogue or even a breakthrough. I don't know if there's any word for the phenomena of using music for creative processes but it's a bit like using the sonic rhythms to find the rhythm in your own work. There's a reason I suggested classical music too - the no lyric element is useful to a decluttered stimulant - and if I may sound totally New Age-y for a moment, a cello or a collection of violins always have something profound to say.
See? Sorry, thus ends the feel-the-sonic-vibes, man interlude.
But truly - find a classical music playlist that inspires you - and try to curate it so that near the middle you get some loud, angry anthems in there: 'Dance of The Knights' by Prokofviev, 'Bolero' by Ravel, the entire 'Carmen' suite by Bizet, in fact every Angry Young Man of the classical world. Curate a classical playlist on Spotify or if you're a newbie, choose one of your own and let it carry you away for a few hours.
And yet, and yet, as we remember from many summers of revision, we must take breaks. And this is dangerous. To avoid the sinkhole of Twitter and YouTube instead immerse youself in creative works that, even when 'resting' will marinate the creative juices as you take in modern art with something to say. Often controversial and always witty, may I suggest 'the.bluelemonade' insta account. This account is curated by folk with a great eye as well as finger on the pulse and showcases the best of the contemporary art world. It is sister to 'the.pinklemonade' acc if you run out of inspo. Indeed, when life gives you lemons, follow the 'the.bluelemonade' insta account:
Next, we need to know our craft, and/or defeat the enemy that is the blank page and convas, and more often than not, that insider craft knoweldge, whatever your vice, comes from the world of the podcast. It's taken me years but through training I have graduated from classical music to writing at the same time as others talking at a low volume and if needed, I can have gentle, inspiring chatter from playwright Simon Stephens talking to various playwrights in a delightful, light hour of chatter. Something these admirable playwrights talk candidly about is one unique experience they all have shared: works onstage in either/and the Jerwood Theatre upstairs and downstairs at the Royal Court Theatre in London. The fact that a fellow playwright is asking the questions means you get insight into the writer as never before. It's simple, effetive: simply put, it is a joy. We all have to have goals and mine is to have passed the grade and have a show on at this well known and brilliant theatre, perhaps if only to be the recipient of one of Simon Stephens' legendary introductions, a career highlight for many. And that, I promise you friends, is not sarcastic. I particularly love his chat with one of my favourite playwrights, Zinnie Harris, here:
- Any other Royal Court Playwright's Podcast
- insta accounts: thecorsetedbeauty, elmsgreenanddragsetstudio, jacobcollier, nocturnerouge
- the bbc recipe page. Joy unbound
- plenty of water, kids.
- looking up the internet sales
- participating in the Royal Academy Twitter account drawing challenges.
Follow these steps and more and the three Ps will be yours. In essence, what I hope to have achieved is a Trojan Horse effect - yes this is a Love More, enjoy more kind of feel good article, but also to get you back on the horse (the real one, not the too tall and too wide and therefore suspish as heck one, and what's more, not made of wood) and doing the things you love, career choice or not in these extraordinary times. Perhaps not Love More, but Craft More.
One last fave - the Elmsgreen and Dragset art duo, responsible for the infamous Prada shop in the Nevada Desert, now entering its first decade without a customer in sight, are long held faves of mine. I was lucky enough to see their installation in the wing of the V&A Museum in London back in 2011, but I have a particular fave of theirs, here below:
Remember: you needn't always be looking in, or sitting at the bottom of the Paralysis Hill or a member of Procrastination Nation. Surprisingly, or not, the things you love and appreciate will get you there. Love them more.
About the Creator
I am a freelance writer, playwright, director and lecturer from London. Self professed nerd, art lover and Neurodivergent, vegan since '16, piano player since 7 - let's see...oh and music, lots and lots of music