Walking through Best Buy, I was salivating at all the pretty gizmos and gadgets. Yes I have an iPad and an iPhone but that iPad Mini would be perfect. It’s so mini! I could bring it to a cozy little coffee shop where I could write the next great novel (ooh I’ll need a new bluetooth keyboard (and I should grab the new Apple Pencil (and a Kindle?)))
I had to leave the store and take a breath. There is so much stuff that promises creativity and productivity. The thing is, I could write the next great novel with a piece of lead and a scrap of paper. I don’t need any of these things. I’m hiding in the store where there is all this potential because potential seems less scary than reality.
Have you ever sat down with a new iPad with the latest Apple Pencil and opened Procreate? It’s wild - you’re just looking at a white screen. There’s nothing there. It’s just empty.
You draw and write but soon realize that you have less to say on a $1000 device than you did in when you were a kid scribbling on loose printer paper. You quickly return to the store to purchase a better case and a wireless charger.
The new iPad effect is a very cold reminder that no matter what gizmo you buy, you are still you. An iPad Mini makes a very poor existential shield.
there are tools that allow you to make new forms of art or get organized. How can you distinguish a useful tool from a toy that distracts from the uncomfortable feelings that come with creating art? This is an amazing question!
I’m coming to realize the tools are not inherently helpful or distracting. They are extensions of ourselves so check in with yourself. I’m realizing this is a mindfulness blog post.
Merlin Mann wrote this blog post years ago on the subject of taking ownership of your creative life.
“Sigh. I wish I could finally start writing My Novel….Ooooooh, if only I had a slightly nicer pen…and Zeus loved me more…”
“Run straight into your shitstorm, my friends. Reject the impulse to
think about work, rather than finishing it. And, open your heart to the
remote possibility that any mythology of personal failure that involves
messiahs periodically arriving to make everything “easy” for you might
not really be helping your work or your mental health or your long-standing addiction to using tools solely to ship new excuses.
Learn your real math, and any slide rule will suffice. Try,
make, and do until you quit noticing the tools, and if you still think
you need new tools, go try, make, and do more.
If you can pull off this deceptively simple and millennia-old
pattern, you’ll eventually find that—god by dying god—any partial truth
that’s supported your treasured excuses for not working will be replaced
by a no-faith-required knowledge that you’re really, actually, finally getting better at something you care about.
Which is just sublimely un-distracting.”
It is scary being creative. Being vulnerable, delving into emotions and trying skills that you initially suck at. Honestly it’s scary just being a person so don’t blame yourself for reaching for a soother. Just try not to let the iPad become more important than the art that is created on it.