Do you use cross-pollination techniques in your creative work?
It's an effective way of working from a portfolio-orientation rather than a path-orientation. Because it allows you to work on multiple projects, rather than focus exclusively on just one.
I work on multiple writing projects throughout the day in a nonlinear way, rather than move from one to the other in a linear fashion.
Plus I don't "batch" my writing by working on pieces with common themes. I may be working on a thought leadership article on hospital marketing, a poem or two, an essay on the relationship of faith and creativity and a blog post on the same day.
I work like a bumble bee in a patch of clover flowers in the early summer. Bouncing from one to the other in an intuitive, but random way.
This has had serendipitous effects on my creative writing.
I believe one of the secret sauces in my blog - one of the things that make it stand out - is that I am a poet, not a "blogger". And I spend a lot of time working with metaphor, figurative language and acrobatic juxtaposition rather than "how-to" pieces.
And the fact that I work on poems and blog posts at the same time influences how I write and what you read here.
This cross-pollination not only occurs in our creative work, but our everyday life as well.
I was watching a PBS documentary on the bioregional history of Appalachia and one of the academians talked about disjunction. He said the exact same species of tulip poplar exists in Southern China and Appalachia, and no where else in the world.
At the time I was watching this, I was rocking my sleeping daughter, who happens to be from Southern China. (And I'm a Southern boy.)
The TV show cross-pollinated with my family's reality and gave me the idea of a poem on the tulip poplar and disjunction referencing not just trees, but families.
However, as I was working on that poem, it cross-pollinated with an idea I had sketched as a blog post on the benefits of working on several projects at the same time. And, right now, you are reading the results of that!
So how are you allowing for serendipity in your creative work?
Do you tend to work on one thing at a time? Or do you tend to float between multiple projects throughout the day?
There's no "right" way, of course. But I hope this cross-pollinates with some ideas you're already working on and yields creative gold for you.
(photo by Dan Pearce on Flickr)
Keitharsis is a blog about creativity, roots & the portfolio life. It is written primarily for writers and artists. New essays are published each Tuesday and Thursday. Creative exercises are offered each Wednesday.