So I’m on Official Non-Emergency Pirate Queen Holiday this week.

As you might imagine, there has been much journaling.

Thought you might like a peek at some of the bits and pieces in the Pirate Queen Vacation Spiral Notebook.

I hope it mostly makes sense.

The part I’m putting here started out as entries in the Book of Me, and then turned into something else.

The question/challenge.

The thing I’m trying to figure out:

What do the most creative periods in my life have in common?

I’m interested both in determining the defining conditions that these periods share and what happens to me when I’m in them.

These creative periods. What do I know about being in them?

I invent.

And there is an enormous amount of reflection. An enormous amount of working on my stuff.

I come up with new techniques. I sleep well. I bring things into the world.

Have organizational impulses.

Aesthetic opinions become stronger.

I am, for the most part, relaxed and happy.

I am in a state of flow.

Not the best term, maybe. But really, all the words I can think of that people use to describe this thing (“peak performance”) are kind of depressing.

What happens is this: things come together. I am the process and the do-er and the observer. It is sparkly.

What do I know about the setting and the elements involved?

Or: What are my own personal ideal conditions for this kind of creativity?

  • away from internet
  • not working (or at least not working regular hours)
  • lots of walking (especially the kind that doesn’t involve interruptions — in a park, in the woods, around a lake, on a ship, places with minimum traffic)
  • plenty of non-walking exercise (yoga, Shiva Nata, dance, movement, stairs)
  • lots of time outdoors (especially near trees or water)
  • time for writing and thinking
  • time for napping

Times in my life that were major periods of creative output:

1) Working in the orchard.

2) The infamous Zebra period.

3) My year in Berlin.

4) The three Pirate Queen vacations.

These are the times in my life when I’ve done my best writing, my best thinking, had my best ideas.

These are also the times in which I have had all or most of my personal conditions of creativity met.*

* Note: I am not in any way implying that these are THE conditions of creativity. Your own Book of You will be different from mine.

What I know (and need to remember):

There may be more elements I’ve forgotten.

And I may not actually need all of these to be in play. But: the more conditions met, the greater the state of creative happiness.

Sometimes I tend to think that these are luxury conditions.

But they aren’t. In two of these scenarios I was unemployed and barely getting by.

However, it is much easier to create when survival stuff isn’t at the fore.

The elements are more important than the form.

Is that true?

What if my dream job is not my dream job?

The orchard job was the best job I’ve ever had. It’s been sixteen years since then and I still love those trees. Even though they’re gone now.

Climbing all day.

Alone. With steady hands and rich smells.

Writing in the evenings. Crawling exhausted into bed.


But I didn’t have a Book of Me then. And so: what if I’ve been wrong?

What if it wasn’t the orchard-ness but the elements and the conditions?

What if movement + tired + smells + outdoors + time + free wandering mind is the combination? Or close to it?

What if I can have all of that without having to find the orchard?

I need to recreate the orchard without the orchard.

And in order to do that I need to take this to more of an extreme. I need to plan a sabbatical.

But it can’t be called that.

And it needs to meet these conditions of creative flow.

And I’m pretty sure it needs to be away from Portland.

At the very least, I need access to outdoor exercise that is not hampered/interrupted by people.

This is going to be interesting, since I have no idea how this is going to work.

And that’s where I’ll stop for now.

Most of the stuff I wrote this week was a) super practical problem-solving biggification stuff, b) theoretical philosophical musings or c) emotional destuckifying and talking to monsters.

This was the one bit that wasn’t any of those things. Not sure why that’s the piece I wanted you guys to have. But that’s where I ended up. And maybe it will end up being useful in some unexpected way.

Comment zen for today.

I’m not interested in advice. Still in processing mode.

But if you have notes for the Book of You or stuff you’re working on or reading this made you think about your own relationship to creativity, that’s awesome. And you’re welcome to share any and all of that.

Because you never know when where you are ends up being useful to someone else reading.

We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. It’s a process. Blowing kisses from far away.

The Fluent Self