jetsetgreen

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Spinning


Based on a hastily conducted and incomplete survey, all creative people get spinning days. There are lots of days: bad days, good days, miserable days, I-just-can't-believe-it days, but the strangest of all are the spinning days.

The thoughts come so fast, spilling into one another, that you feel light-headed. Even though you try to get a grip on your brain, it doesn't work, and you keep spinning, spinning, spinning. You try to narrow your eyes to focus, but it doesn't work like that; your vision doesn't need to focus, it's your brain.

You can't pick a task, you certainly can't finish a task, as soon as you decide on one thing your thoughts move to the next, and the next, and the next. Holding a conversation becomes nearly impossible. A person is talking and you can't respond to the last thing they said because you've already moved 9 steps ahead. You say words and then stop in the middle of sentence, trying to retrace where you were when the thought went skipping beyond your grasp only to have it replaced by 18 more thoughts. The deluge is too much.

Do spinning days happen before creatively productive periods, or after? Are they the precursor to clever ideas, or the fall out from highly concentrated brainstorming? Can a pattern be found? A friend wrote once that there are idea people and execution people. Idea people divine brilliant ideas but won't see them to fruition. Execution people don't often have ideas, but they know a good one and can take an idea to unprecedented places. Do you know which you are? I love execution people because my rush of ideas can't go anywhere without their measured steps. Execution people don't have spinning days, do they? I doubt it, their mental organization is too regimented. Meanwhile, here I sit, moving faster than light.

Sometimes I can control the spinning with noise-canceling headphones and loud music aimed through my ears to the firing synapses; neural counter-pressure. Other days focus eludes me no matter what I do. I hopelessly blink while the whirl speeds images and ideas through my consciousness. Whiz-bang-flash.

Do you spin?

Are you?

Have you?

33 comments:

Sue said...

I'm an idea person. I leave a trail of abandoned projects in my wake. Latest example - MMB - lost interest in it a few months into it and turned it over to Motherboard, who has turned it into something huge.

And lets not mention the partial manuscript that garnered an enthusiastic response and a request for a full from a big deal NY agent. Somehow I never quite got around to finishing it...

My computer is littered with unfinished manuscripts, business ideas, half finished blog posts...

Without a deadline and a portion of my income at stake, I fail.

Love this post.

annie said...

having a day like this then reading your description of a day like this sort of gave me mental motion sickness. i love it.

NatTheFatRat said...

Just talked about this today with my husband. He calls it being a "starter" and a "finisher." He's a finisher, I'm a starter who goes in with a bang and fizzles fizzles fizzles.

I read an article about this once. Basically research shows that creative people need long down periods to recover from their bursts of creativity, which can be very winding. So creative types are likely to be seen as lazy when they're not, or as manic when they're not really either. We're ON for a while and then retreat to emotionally prepare for the next burst of creative energy.

I love spinny days, grab a notebook! There'll be time to focus later!

Beeswax said...

I think maybe I'm neither. Just lazy.

No, I'm definitely more of a starter than a finisher. But I don't spin. I do see black spots then lose my peripheral vision before I get a migraine, tho. Sometimes I feel like I'm spinning. Does that count?

Kristen said...

"Do you spin?"

Only every day of my life.

And just this morning my dr. said I should be tested for ADD. Hahahahahaha!

Annette Lyon said...

I'm the spinning queen.

A lot of creative people are also ADD people, and "spinning" sounds a whole lot like how my ADD brain works. Oh, and the creative side of me too.

It's maddening for my husband. Totally normal for me, though. One reason it's nice to hang out with my older sister. She spins harder and faster than I do.

Rynell said...

This is one of my favorite posts ever. Ever, I say.

Yes, I spin. My other half also spins. Usually not at the same time as me, which is probably good for our offspring that at least one of us can usually see straight on a given day.

sarah k. said...

I was having one the other day, and I sat down to organize the tupperwares. It was instantly calming. As a normally chaotic, non-organized person, it was like a sedative. I've resolved to do some mundane but repetitive thing every day, just to bring the spinning to a manageable level. See that? I'm gonna do some cleaning!

Azúcar said...

Sarah, picking one repetitive thing like that helps me too. The worst are the days when I can't pick just one task and therefore can't stop tumbling.

I wondered if people would bring up ADD. I know I'm not ADD since these days aren't my defaults, they're outliers. But once a month or so, whiiirrrl.

amelia said...

That's the perfect way to describe it - spinning. The worst for me is at night, when all these ideas seem to run around screaming for attention. Then I end up staying up too late writing, using a flashlight to put the ideas in a notebook by my bed until the ideas are all down on paper.

(I sound crazy.)

Anne-Marie said...

I am most definitely a spinner.

Probably why I heavily rely upon my day planner, sticky notes and my blackberry at all times. (yes. i use all 3)

Also keep a notepad by my bed which I am known for jotting down the endless ideas, tasks at 3 am.

noelle said...

I have spinning nights. Had one last night in fact. Usually after a few hours of sleep - then I lay awake spinning for three or four hours until I will myself to settle down. Ambien had mostly solved this problem but being pregnant means no drugs and hence the spinning nights have resumed.

JP said...

I was going to try and be clever "I spin, therefore I am..."

But yeah...I'm a spinner. Big time.

b. said...

Yes. Oh, yes.

I like to mow the lawn or vacuumn on those days. Something about making straight lines and keeping a pattern help to calm me.

Sarah said...

After reading this, I'm beginning to have a little clarity into my life. I don't have days of spinning-I have weeks.

Will anything ever get accomplished in the hands of a professional spinner?
I just checked the previous comments, maybe I'm just ADD. Oh well, it was nice to have that little 'spin' while it lasted.

I hope you are able to get many things accomplished in the near future.

Azúcar said...

Noelle, you can use Unisom when you're pregnant, and that stuff is great.

Kalli Ko said...

My mind never stops and that's the entire problem.

Kami said...

that sounds awful! It sounds about how I feel when I'm on twitter or worse, gno on twitter...shhh.

Erin L said...

i've never commented before, but this post got me thinking. i'm not a spinner at all. I'm not an idea person. I'm definitely execution. I don't always finish projects though, but if the project was a good idea to begin with, i'm great at executing it. Usually the projects I don't finish are the ones that started with my own "weak" ideas.

I suddenly feel much more worthwhile. I always wondered about not being very "creative."

Anna M said...

sheesh, I'm spinning NOW!

What's up with Mid Century Modern Utah? I'm dying for an update... you know, when you stop spinning.

Camille said...

I usually just sit; numb, with a blank stare. My mind doesn't move that quickly. Spinning sounds like fun :)

By the way, were you at the Bijou Market a couple Saturdays ago? I thought I saw you walk in and was *this close* to coming across as a stalker by saying, "are you Azucar/JetSet/Carina?" I went against my instincts and decided to save my group from embarrassment. ;)

rookie cookie said...

Spin. That is a good word. Yes, I spin, a lot. And if it doesn't get written down, it won't let me sleep. I have cheapy grocery store notebooks filled with ideas and lists. And all are written in pencil, Ticonderoga pencils:) It's anything from what diapers I liked that I last bought at the grocery store to what I can do with 3 boxes of phyllo dough sitting in the freezer. It's things I need to remember to clean, pay and try.

What am I currently spinning over? How to make chorizo and pineapple work together in a recipe and trying to remember to change the oil in my car.

Amy said...

I'm not a spinner. Not sure I'm into executing either. Is there a category for people who avoid projects altogether?

Heidi said...

I am *definitely* an idea person! I'm a spinning expert. Execution can be accomplished, but it's stressful. Actually, so is spinning. But it comes more naturally to me!

Camels East said...

Spinning Days. It now has a word...

Like, today I was doing the laundry, when I accidentally sketched a new wall design then installed the new track lighting. Laundry is still in the dining room.

What I should be doing is designing new front landscaping post-Noreaster.

At least my track lighting is in.

Marianne & Clayton said...

Like Rookie-Cookie, I have to mix the mundane with the lofty goals, otherwise neither get done. I write out these giant lists with little boxes next to each item, so I can enjoy the gratification of "finishing" something. Sadly, the list has stuff like "Make new skirt, paint Eleanor's room, shower, make pies, mop floor" etc... Making the bed and showering shouldn't get equal billing with finishing a painting, but there you have it.

Azúcar said...

Erin, thanks for the comment. I've worked with executor people for my whole career. You're great inspirations and when we're teamed up, cool things happen.

Lara said...

Total spinner here. I loved reading this. It makes me feel more normal. My mother is an executor (executer?) and has always had difficulty understanding the way I work. I am the queen of unfinished projects, I go on kicks where I obsess one thing to death. Sometimes I finish and am pleased with the result, but more often than not I am on to the next big thing before I can finish what I started.

Allie said...

I'm tapering the dosage of my ADHD medications, so I spin quite uncontrollably most days.

It's like my life turns into a 24 hour news channel and all the crawls and feeds and headlines are competing for attention with the anchor who usually represents the person I'm talking to and they finish their sentence and I was too distracted comparing them to a news anchor so I lost track of what was going on and I'm like "OH CRAP! I'm supposed to respond now, huh?" so I just say "yes" and sometimes that's the right thing to say and sometimes it isn't.

And you're right... spinny days usually precede overly creative days. I think I'm due for one of those soon.

Buscando la Luz said...

Finally catching-up on your blog. This post is fascinating. I'm def not an executor. And I'm grateful to now have a vocabulary word to go with what happens sometimes in my brain. It's hard to have regular conversations with people sometimes when my thoughts are whirring. Spinning.

Thanks.

Likely said...

I never posted on this but I sure have thought about it a lot.

I have spun my whole life. I think my mother has too. My mother had dreams she has never seen. It makes me sad and mad to think that might be me.

Posts like this make me angry because it is all too true. Sometimes I think I need help because I go crazy with too many ideas and I feel hopeless.....

I will stop.

Geo said...

I do.
I am.
I don't have any noise-cancelling earphones, but I do stuff earbuds as far down my ear canals as possible, and sometimes the trusty iPod helps. Sometimes I can only meditate on silver bullets.

Not sure I could ever be an actual Executioner though.

Likely said...

I am linking to this post tonight.