The Soft Sciences of Professional Practice: Thing 4

This blog series based on a talk I did originally for a class of LCAD students in November of 2016

In college (or whatever way you learned your thing) you learn how to DO your craft: Visual hierarchy, rules of layout, color theory, how to use design programs - the mechanics of it. And if you're lucky, somewhere along the way you also get taught about doing the WORK of your craft: How to hustle new work, manage clients, invoicing, project management, etc.

Here in Soft Sciences, I'm going to talk about some of the touchy-feely, soft and squishy places in-between those two things.

Thing 4: Keep your ability to have abstract thought well-lubricated

This is one of my absolute favorite boxes of soap to step up onto.

Being able to think abstractly IS creativity, as far as I'm concerned. Being able to open up your mind and consider things differently from a fresh perspective and a new approach... that's everything. 

But if we're always doing the same things, how can we exercise the muscle of abstract thought? If your entire practice of staying inspired involves refreshing the same blogs and websites over and over again, you're doing it wrong. We have to continue discovering entirely new things. Things we don't necessarily have a metric for.

Hear me out about this metric thing. Let's just use live music as an example. Now, music is an incredibly necessary and beautiful part of our human experience. It moves us and speaks to us in ways that nothing else can. However. You've heard lots of music. You've been to a fair share of live shows, I assume. When you get to the venue, you've most likely chosen to go see the artist you're going to see. You know generally where you like to arrange yourself in the room for your optimal experience. You can tell whether or not you like the music or if you're having a good time. These are all metrics by which you can measure your experience.

But what about taking in some spoken word poetry or interpretive dance? Find an immersive theatre experience or go check out some improv comedy (Maybe you're super fucking cool and you do all of these things all the time... you are awesome and I really hope you ask me to hang out with you). But the point is: take in new experiences. Stuff that maybe weirds you out a little bit. Get your buttons pushed. Do something that stretches you open a little wider and makes you think to yourself, "Do I like this? What are these feelings I'm having? How does this all make me feel?".

I call this 'discovering new curiosities'. Take in art and experiences that you have no metric for. No way to immediately gauge if you like it or not, and therefore dismiss it. Put yourself in it, and let yourself feel what it does to you. Even if you decide you hate it, you're exercising that muscle in your brain that facilitates abstract thought, and it will absolutely improve your creative practice.

As a step further, tell me all the cool shit you think to do! I'm always looking for cool new stuff to do that will make me feel things.