Amateurs wait for inspiration. Professionals just show up and get to work. The gurus of creative self-help books are pretty much in unison on this, I think. Not that I have studied them all. But sure, in my day job I’m a pro. Provided that the job at hand is well defined – I just start writing.
There’s an Einstein quote… well there always is, isn’t it? … “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.”
If I reverse this thought I can see that the reason for my failure on my unproductive days is mostly due to lack of problem definition. I don’t have a plan. I show up at the studio, but … I haven’t got a clue. Where do I start? On a synth, on a drum machine.
On a day when I’m fresh, energized and awake this isn’t much of a problem. I will get some idea and run with it. On a tired day, after work, I need to have a concise list of idiot chores. Something I can do in my sleep, because that’s about the cognitive level where I’m at.
The professional attitude of just showing up and getting to work works fine when you feel like a formula 1 race car. Your acceleration goes from 0 to hyperdrive in just a few… well, minutes. On tired days I feel much more like a long heavy freight train that stretches for miles. The effort to get this monster moving is enormous, and it takes time to get it up to speed.
On those days, it’s absolutely crucial to be undisturbed. Slamming the brakes because family duties call and having to start over from zero. Well, after three or four false starts it’s hard.
Despite being tired I often keep pulling my box cars long into the night, long after the family is asleep. Because it’s not until then that I might reach hyperdrive, free myself from gravity to steal some magic dust from the stars.
The morning after, I’m not sure I’m that much of a professional at work. I’m a freight train stuck in a loop, running in circles.