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Solitude of Creativity (GWTW34)

It’s always interesting when something I read or watch illuminates what I’m reflecting upon deep within my brain. Recently, I read quotes from Werner Herzog and Thomas Merton on the subject of solitude. In this episode of Getting Work To Work, I talk about the solitude of creativity and share four ways you can introduce more solitude into your work.

Werner Herzog in Herzog on Herzog: “It is my firm belief, and I say this as a dictum, that all these tools now at our disposal, these things part of this explosive evolution of means of communication, mean we are now heading for an era of solitude. Along with this rapid growth of forms of communication at our disposal—be it fax, phone, email, internet or whatever—human solitude will increase in direct proportion. It might sound paradoxical, but it is not. It might appear that these things remove us from our isolation, but isolation is different from solitude. When you are caught in a snowdrift in South Dakota, fifty miles from the next town, your solution can be overcome with a mere cellular phone. But solitude is something more existential” (Cronin, 2002, p. 156).

Thomas Merton in No Man Is An Island: “A person is a person insofar as he has a secret and is a solitude of his own that cannot be communicated to anyone else. If I love a person, I will love that which most makes him a person: the secrecy, the hiddenness, the solitude of his own individual being, which God alone can penetrate and understand. A love that breaks into the spiritual privacy of another in order to lay open all his secrets and besiege his solitude with importunity does not love him: it seeks to destroy what is best in him, and what is most intimately his” (Merton, 1955, pp. 258-259).

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Four Ways to Introduce a Greater Sense of Solitude into Your Work

  1. Realize that not everything you do, say, or create is for an audience. Sometimes the act of creation is for your own pleasure.
  2. You don’t have to share every thought or idea. You don’t have to comment on every world event.
  3. Don’t forsake time alone, but also don’t keep your friends and family at a distance.
  4. Know the difference between being known and your work being known.


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