Hello. I’m your nutritionist for today. Oh. No, not the kind that will tell you what to put in your mouth and stomach.
I’m a nutritionist for artists. Creators, photographers, writers, illustrators, painters and sculptors. And I'd like to talk to you about what you put in your head. To make sure it is filled with nutrition, and not empty, fatty and heavy with calories.
Have you ever been really hung-over and stuffed your face with pizza, chips, soda and candy? And felt that completely devastating feeling of heaviness, almost like you are being filled with water, with some small bubbles of liquid fat - until you almost burst and explode over the couch and walls? You think you would probably feel better if you got up and took a walk outside, but you are just too bloated to move or do anything except stare at the TV. Know what I’m talking about?
On the other hand, have you gotten really full on a kale and spinach salad, with pickled onion, soy beans, loads of cubed avocado, tomatoes, cucumber, artichoke hearts, and fresh dressing with olive-oil and lemon? The kind of meal where you could basically eat until you are full, then a little bit more, and still be able to walk out of the room with light steps? You can feel it is good for your body!
The same thing goes when it comes to stuffing your brain (have you heard the expression ‘food for thought’?). Put the right things in and it will make you quick-witted, fertile, and visionary. But if you mentally wolf down the wrong dishes - the fast food-of thoughts - it will leave you plodding, snail-like and dense.
Just like an athlete needs muscles to perform, an artist needs creativity. It is delicate and light and flimsy; like a mayfly that would be unable to lift and live if is covered in grease. You need to feed it with the right things. Your thoughts need nutrition.
Ten minutes of Facebook is a cheeseburger. Half an hour of thoughtless YouTubing is two slices of dollar-pizza. An hour of Instagram-scrolling is a greasy bucket of chicken-wings and fries. And every time your phone pings up a notification, you put your hand into the bag of candy and put another piece of sugar in your mental mouth.
A few decades ago, experts and chefs were praising the newly-presented microwave as a miracle machine; entire cook books were published with dishes to prepare in it. Nowadays, we know that it will re-heat the food quickly but remove most of the nutrition from anything put into it.
Screens are the microwaves for your mind - be it computer, phone, or TV. Glowing and sparking, it quickly heats up your head until all the nutrition is gone. It fills a gap, but only temporarily. Just like the microwave, it should be used as little as humanly possible. The more time you spend in front of a screen, the less creative you become. Sheeplike floating around the Internet; with the belief that you are looking for inspiration or looking at videos with people doing what you want to do yourself. All the inspiration you need exists in the real world- the analogue world. In thoughtful conversations, books and magazines made of paper, dance-performances, travels, steaming noodle-soups, and falling rain. Sit in the sunset without anything else to do, and you will notice the difference in taste between the gently and slowly-cooked ten-hour-stew that you prepared with your hands and the three-minute-quick-heated-and-pinged-! frozen fish gratin.
Prepare whatever you choose to create with presence, and serve it to your guests, online or in real life. Don’t check in for comments or praise every five minutes. Instead, go back to your kitchen and create more art. Work with determination, concentration. Get your editing done as quickly as you can, don’t spend more time than you need sitting, looking, clicking. Take more pictures of real things. Shape more clay. Use your hands. The screen can fry a few brain-cells every second.
What is the ultimate diet for an artist then? What is the equivalent of raw/paleo/lchf/vegan for your brain? What headline would be on the cover of the first issue of ‘The Artists Munchies Magazine’ (feel free to launch it, I’d be more than happy to buy a subscription)?
It is simple.
Feed your brain raw material
Make sure there are as few steps as possible from the source to your mind. Don’t read “7 authors talk about their morning habits”. Get their books and read them describe the process themselves in detail, not rewritten and condensed by some blogger looking for clicks.
Slow-cook your brain-food
When you try to get result quickly, the nutrition will disappear. Find the calm to read books, watch a forty-minute speech, listen to interviews in podcasts.
Skip the fast brain food chains
Make sure your inspiration actually inspire, not just giving you a false feeling of being full. Stay away from thoughtless scrolling through funny pictures. Watch a TED talk instead. You might feel reluctant at first - it seems like a much easier fix to just gulp down something funny and sugary - but in the long run, you will gain from choosing.
Keep a logbook
People have wine diaries. You should have something similar for inspiration. I’m using Tumblr (I got the idea from Austin Kleon, initially) where I write down every article, speech, post that I find inspiring and want to remember. And I try not to just link it; I write down a few quotes and personal thoughts, together with hashtags to be able to find appropriate links in the future. Perfect when you need some inspiration for a blog post or new e-book!
That’ll be 90 bucks, please. See you next week!
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