Thanksgiving has passed and December is nearing by the minute. The days are shorter, the weather cooler, and things have slowed as they do for some of us during the holiday season. For me it's that time of year that I retreat into my own head, something I've been told I shouldn't do, but seems unavoidable this time of year. This regression into my own thoughts, though, isn't always a bad thing, and is sometimes needed.
I found myself in conversation the other day with a friend and fellow artist. As we were conversing about upcoming shows, future plans, and just random things, my friend apologized as she pulled a sketch book out. A thought had come to her mind and it had to be written down. While searching for an elusive pen, she was continuing to apologize for the break in conversation. I found this somewhat awkward, but not because she had interrupted our conversation.
Maybe it's because my primary medium is photography, but it seemed as if it was not understood that I too keep a book for the exact reasons that she does. Ideas will come to you in a flash sometimes, and if you don't record it immediately, it fades like the dream you had the previous evening. It will often stay with you to the point that hours later you can get the core idea written down, but the details of that initial moment are lost in the haze that has built up over those lingering hours between the flash of the idea and pen hitting paper.
As our conversation continued, post idea recording, we discussed for a moment how this is something that seems to unite the creative minds. Whether you are a writer, painter, composer, or photographer; the creative part of your mind hardly rests. The reason that idea is normally not fresh after a few minutes to an hour is often because that initial idea hit your mind like a train that continues on unphazed. I find that when my ideas start coming, they don't stop. If you don't grab onto that idea immediately, you very well could lose it forever as your mind continues adding more thoughts, complicating the journey back to the initial starting point.
I can't speak for the artists who didn't have any formal training in an academic setting, but I have learned over time why it was that my teachers and professors in my early classes insisted that we keep a sketch book. At times this book, in whatever form it was at the time, was very much my most important piece of equipment. This log of random ideas, questions, and thoughts is a roadmap to my own thoughts and, sometimes, the only record of why my thoughts are going where they are. It brings me right back to this time of year and where I am right now.
When it comes to my personal life, being a self-analyzing person who sits and thinks constantly can be a chore for those around me. I know there are some people reading this that are saying, "No SHIT!", right now. My apologies to that group. However, when it comes to catching that train of creative thought, nothing is more satisfying than spending hours pouring over ideas. When it comes to the ideas that fuel our work, being able to sit and record thoughts is not only therapeutic at times, but a necessity.
My point, if I have one right now, is that although we, as creatives, may seem distant and off on another planet, there's a reason. There is also a reason you'll see most of us at some point sitting alone with an unmarked book and some sort of writing/drawing utensil. Some of us draw our thoughts, some of us write them down, and others have a mix. If we're lucky, we know the train is coming and can sit down and record ideas for a lengthy amount of time. If not, the book is still there to record the idea as our minds get dragged off by the speeding train that is our thought process.