The Tyranny of the Screen

the tyranny of the screen - Dance Notes creativity blogLast time, I mentioned how I like to capture ideas by recording improvisations and then teasing-out the creative nuggets that appear.  A computer hooked-up to my keyboard aids this process. However, I neglected to mention that, quite often, I will also work away from digital devices to escape the tyranny of the screen.

Not Always Helpful

And this, I think, is an important point. Sitting in front of a computer screen – whether to write, compose, animate, ‘paint’, design or for any other creative activity – can be inhibiting. Or, at least, it can dominate your thinking in a way that is not always helpful.

We are so used to using screens in our daily lives that it is easy to underestimate to what extent the method influences the outcome. I am using one right now and it is quite possible that what I write or the way I express myself is being driven by that fact. Instead, why not sit with a paper and pen and write long-hand, before then transferring your thoughts to a word processor?

Liberation from ‘Efficiency’

Our fixation with ‘efficiency’ means that this may seem like a waste of time. However, having the freedom to sit outdoors, in a cafe, on a train or in some other environment, away from the computer, can be liberating and lead to thought-processes that may not otherwise arise. Similarly, playing a keyboard that is ‘just’ a keyboard may illicit different results to doing the same thing when a screen is in front of me.

When I wrote my last blog, I had recently started work on two new compositions. Each had arisen from simple ideas that had presented themselves when I was tinkering at a piano, away from my computer. I had the presence of mind to record what I was playing, so that I could later reproduce it in the studio and craft the results into a full composition.

Carry a Notepad

As a teacher, you will undoubtedly have many pressures on your time and resources. Having the luxury to sit down and think about what you want to do creatively with your class may be rare. However, it’s not difficult to carry a notepad around. It is quite likely that ideas and thoughts will occur to you when you are away from your working environment. Rather than trying to then recapture these, next time you are ‘planning’, try to make a note of them immediately.

How many great thoughts and ideas come to you when you are out walking, running, taking a bath or lying in the sun? There’s a reason for this: your mind is having the opportunity to unwind and this is when you are arguably at your most creative. Rather than then turning this into ‘work’, if you can store these ideas for later, when you are working, you can then get back to relaxing. Which, after all, we all need.

A World of Possibility

Of course, nearly everyone carries a phone these days. And most phones have the facility for you to write notes, record audio, capture video, etc. However, the moment you open this device, you are presented with a world of possibility and, inevitable, some of this will lead back to ‘work’. Try to resist the tyranny of the screen, in whatever shape or form. You’ll have plenty of time for that later.

In the meantime, let your creativity flow, capture the inspiration.

And… relax.


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