Austin Kleon’s Steal Like An Artist, his manifesto for creativity in the digital age, is full of useful tips, with one that stands out for me:
Be boring. (It’s the only way to get work done.)
While an inspired spark may be source of creative work, it’s the drudgery of thorough execution that’s necessary to bring it to completion. Even the smallest projects are an accumulation of many tiny details, each requiring time to get right. To do this, you need to show up and work, day after day. Being boring enables this.
But you can be boring and have adventure too. The way I’ve done this is to combine work and travel. Not the frenetic “I’ve got to squeeze as much as possible into my annual leave” kind of travel, but months at a time in a new place. This allows you the time to develop the routine needed for consistent, productive work, alongside many opportunities to explore your new home at a comfortable pace. Every lunch break affords you a chance to see something new, every outing for coffee the chance to become a regular in a new neighbourhood. Andy Warwick puts it excellently in this Quora thread: “the mundane becomes an adventure when you live in a foreign land.”
And when you wrap up your work for the night or for the week, there are hours and days ahead of you for adventure and discovery, which can inform and fuel your otherwise perfectly boring working life.
Written from Adelaide, Australia, where I’m living for two months.