Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

How to Develop a Creative Vacuum

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I remember the first time I saw a vacuum.

Not the kind that sweeps the floor. But the kind that creates a void.

It was a physics class in high school. I remember few of the formulas we memorized that year, but I do remember the vacuum. Our teacher had a glass container with a valve. He hooked a pump up to the valve and sucked all the air out of it.

Guess what happened when he released the valve? I’ll never forget the sound of air rushing into the container.

Who knew that something so powerful could exist in a high school classroom?

The Vaccuum

A vacuum is a void surrounded by positive pressure. It is a powerful combination of empty space separated from a positive pressure by a barricade.

Even in the room you are sitting in, the space is filled with air, a combination of oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and other gases.

But a vacuum is created when all of the air is removed. The space is empty. Waiting for something to fill it.

As soon as the barricade is violated, atmospheric pressure forces air into the void, creating movement.

The imbalance of pressures created by the vacuum is irresistible.

photo by Kasia

Create a Vacuum to Create

In order for creative energy to flow, we need a vacuum.

We get so busy with life that creativity itself finds no place to develop. Our lives are full. Full of entertainment. Full of distractions. Full of good things like family or work.

But when the space is full, no air flows. When positive pressure is lacking, nothing happens.

Writer’s often call it writer’s block. But when we give it names, we start to treat it like a disease, like a virus. Something that just happened. We use it as an excuse to stay in bed and to not do our work.

Creativity isn’t merely an issue of hard work. There are other factors I can’t describe. But we are more likely to see our creative efforts thrive when we establish a creative vacuum.

We are more likely to create when we create and imbalance between opportunity and energy. (Click here to tweet that sentence.)

Here are 6 ways to Establish a Creative Vacuum.

1. Time. Who doesn’t have enough? We are all busy. But don’t expect to ever be creative if you do not protect your time. When you fill all of your time up with other things, creativity will not flow. Set aside protected time. Block out everything else. And then show up every day. Think of it like a date.

2. Space. Where do you do your work? Is it a mess? Is there clutter? Do you have a dedicated spot? Don’t underestimate the importance of your physical creating environment. Develop a space that doesn’t just limit distractions, but gets rid of them. And include your favorite inspirations, whether music or a painting or your favorite coffee cup.

3. Experiences. Art is an expression of how we view life. Don’t expect creativity to happen if you never experience your own life. Read a good book. Go to an art museum. Go to a park and sit and watch the sunset. Travel to another country. Go to the mall and people watch. Whatever gives you life and energy, do it on a regular basis.

4. Deadlines. Deadlines are not just about writing a term paper at the last minute. They can be helpful when you use them to number your days and create a plan. Determine when you want to finish your project. And then map out a staged plan of how to get there. The deadline can help you to know exactly what you need to accomplish today.

5. Poetry. I never understood poems and gave up on them. But my friend, Dave Harrity, helped me to see the hidden beauty. Especially those that describe the human experience in a beautiful way. I help fuel my own creativity by reading a poem before I start. If you are unsure of where to start with poetry, I recommend Mary Oliver (affiliate link).

6. The Stage. Create a platform for your creative efforts to be shown. Art isn’t art until it is shared. If you keep it to yourself, then call it a diary. Until you share it, it doesn’t have an impact in the world. Create a place in which your work can be read or seen or heard.

How do you create a vacuum that helps you create?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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6 Replies

  1. Carey Rowland

    Perpetual research is productive. This usually involves a lot of reading that is pertinent to your life’s project. Research, coupled with productive daily experience and responsibilities, can be very fruitful, even it seems at times constrictive. Sooner or later, good writing gets squeezed out of all that thoughtful exploration and directed activity.

    1. Some you researching as a way to stall. They don’t start the writing until they feel they have enough research done. Not always the case, but it can be a trap.

    2. I agree, as long as the research develops creative energy. Some use research as a way to stall, to avoid actually doing any work and creating.

  2. Mike Zserdin

    Deadline. Yes, the deadline. Gotta love the deadline and the imperfection it demands.

    1. I love live music for that reason. The imperfections.

    2. I prefer live music over recorded. The imperfections make it real.

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