My life is something of a science project, and I think I’ve stumbled onto something. Let me start out by expressing this in appropriate nerd language:
Question: How do you maintain creativity over time?
Background: Many writer friends talk about ways to avoid or recover from burn-out. It seems like you can’t do one kind of creativity forever, you need to switch it up from time to time to remain fresh. How do you do that?
Hypothesis: I think the three-field system of crop rotation can also be used for human creativity
Test With an Experiment: This is where it gets tricky …
I’m writing this all down for future reference. I’m looking at the process of creativity and how to maintain it over time. If I want to do this for a living, I need to figure out how to do it right. Elizabeth Leggett is a friend, in addition to being a Hugo-winning artist. I was listening to her discuss the challenges of being an artist for a living. One of those challenges is creative burn-out. An artist with no muse is like a lumberjack with no axe. As the conversation progressed, a small lightbulb went off. I remembered how farmers used three-crop rotation to manage their fields and prevent crop failure.
According to Wikipedia, “the three-field system is a regime of crop rotation that was used in medieval and early-modern Europe. Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of different types of crops in the same area in sequential seasons … The three field system allowed farmers to plant more crops and therefore to increase production and legumes have the ability to fix nitrogen and so fertilize the soil. With more crops available to sell, this also helped the economy in general to thrive.”
The American Indians had their own answer to this method – they use the Three Sisters method of agriculture and it, like three-crop rotation, fed people for thousands of years. No matter where you come from, it’s clear that variety is the spice of life and in many cases, a fundamental need.
Can all of this help me as I figure out how to be ‘Jackson Allen the Successful Author?’ Maybe. It’s certainly worth exploring. I’m supplementing my writing with audience building and supplementing my audience building with writing. I’m using creativity to supplement my income and my income to supplement my creativity. I’m using my life to develop my talents and my talents to develop my life. I get frustrated and stressed out if I’m doing one particular thing for too long. Maybe the three-field system is the key to understanding how my life is supposed to work.