pretend you’re in jail.

Last year I read the book Creativity by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and overall I thought it was kind of dry and 400 pages too long, but it had some great moments. My favorite was this quote from an interview with inventor Jacob Rabinow about how to deal with the struggle of feeling like your creative work is taking too much time —

“[T]here’s a trick I pull for this. When I have a job to do like that, where you have to do something that takes a lot of effort, slowly, I pretend I’m in jail. Don’t laugh. And if I’m in jail, time is of no consequence. In other words, if it takes a week to cut this, it’ll take a week. What else have I got to do? I’m going to be here for twenty years. See?”

This feeling that my work is taking too long and I should therefore just give up has always been my biggest creative block. It’s ironic though, because the surest way to waste your time is to give up halfway through a project. The more I treat my work hours like they are useless jail time, the more they actually yield something productive.

These days, I spend most of my time in jail.

📰 subscribe.

join the 2+ readers who get my label. newsletter featuring the latest in art / music / tech / design delivered to their inboxes every weekend: