It’s bitterly cold outside (at least for north Georgia), and I’ve got a dozen things to do (some requiring exposure to that cold), so I’m dawdling with my coffee, reading amazing writing by the people I’ve discovered through the Your Turn Challenge. They share personal fears, pose daring questions, and open my eyes. There’s a niggling voice down inside telling me this is just passive consumption, wasted time, and yet I’ve absorbed a dozen inspirational ideas that will serve as fuel for my future. Can anyone really be productive in isolation?
In my scientific training the first thing we were taught was to “know the literature”: you don’t write a paper in isolation, you review all the relevant research so that you can place your work in context. And reviewing the literature often exposes you to questions that then drive your own inquiries.
I think the same grounding is required in any creative endeavor: there are times when you need to focus on producing your work, and there are times when you benefit most by absorbing the views of others. The important part, as with so many other aspects of life, is maintaining the balance. So now I’m off to work.