Unlike many other things in life, creativity has no age limit.
It doesn’t diminish. But, and there’s always a ‘but’, productivity does have its limitations, especially as we age.
Thanks to Albert-László Barabási for this nugget of wisdom. His research hints that for most of us, we will do the most (volume) of work before forty.
Do you recall in your twenties, even thirties? You could burn the midnight oil too meet a deadline. Catch a few hours sleep, quick shower, grab a cup of coffee, and deliver the finished project on-time.
Thirty, forty years later, that would be impossible for me. Yes, my advancing years are squashing my productivity; especially since I’m basically working two jobs (plus volunteering).
If, Barabási’s conclusion that our productivity diminishes with age, yet our creativity does not, shouldn’t we be more focused with our creative time? Experience and skills are also HUGE factors.
He doesn’t really address the major achievements of post-fifty or post-sixty creators. Surely, as I’m staring down my 60th birthday next year, there is so much that I want to learn and accomplish. I know and understand my physical limitations, when it’s time slow down, rest and rejuvenate. Reading and enjoying a classic movie instead of wasting time scrolling social media. Quiet time is necessary, and regarded as self-care.
Mornings have been my most creative time of the day when my brain is alert and fresh. Once I’ve begun writing or painting, time has passed unnoticed as the coffee in my cup and gone cold. I may not be turning out the quantity of work as I did when I was younger, but I believe my output is better. Working with intention of execution combined with accrued skills contribute to the production of a higher quality body of work.
When I’m learning something new, like a tour for Chicago Architecture Center, the skills, techniques and rehearsal I’ve acquired set a path to complete the requirements to lead a public tour (fingers crossed).
Or, when I’m asked by a customer to assist with the assemble and design of a bouquet of flowers ON-DEMAND, not an advance order… on the spot! Asking key questions and listening, combined with hard skills and a sharp knife usually produce a final assemblage that dazzles.
On the flip, I spent almost two years writing, editing and illustrating my book, Cecelia’s Garden. Due to my schedule, I’m not able to work on it every day for 24 months, but I pushed myself to write the stories, research details and draw the illustrations. It is becoming the collection that aligns with my original vision. I was pumping out pastel paintings quickly, but with deliberate focus.