It’s raining outside. Gray. My dog, Koda, in from a short walk, is thoroughly drying his body all over my couch, writhing around as if his long fur is on fire (if you ever visit you’ll understand why my living room has the curious smell of D.S. & Durga candle and wet dog).
We’re putting the final touches on Issue 05, our team still working from home. We haven’t been in the same room since March. Quite a few things are different for us. I’m sure they are for you, too, and, I hope, in some ways better.
With my unusually undemanding schedule (no air travel, no in-person meetings) I’ve found a few new creative habits particularly successful—rituals that have guided me through the last seven months. With a new pace for, well, everything, I’ve found it easier to work without the pressures or constraints of creating something “great.”
For whatever reason, perhaps the overall air of “fuck it” 2020 has brought on, I’ve dropped the whole “if you’re not struggling, you’re not trying” act. Instead I started writing, somewhat aimlessly, every day. I write when the writing comes easily. When it gets tough I stop. Want to know what happened? I’ve written more and had more ideas.
For a creative person it’s all too easy to focus on the planning, budgeting, and discussing of your work. Actually doing the work is hard. But work is work, and nothing beats that. I’ll forever be skeptical of the person who’s more wrapped up in the presentation and dissemination of their work than the making of it.
It’s part of what drew me to Nicole McLaughlin’s well considered and wonderfully successful work. It speaks so well for itself she doesn’t need to do much speaking about it, but I’m glad she does because she has a fascinating story I’m happy to tell.
Some creative habits I’ve formed have come simply from having the time to live a more examined daily routine. I caved and purchased an eReader and realized how much more I read when my books are all in one place instead of scattered across my house and studio. I haven’t read this much since college. I’ve also caught up on books I missed, like Trevor Noah’s Born A Crime, which was fantastic.
But having the eReader hasn’t kept me from acquiring new printed books. I will forever be surrounded by beautifully printed titles and magazines, too—my desk a constant clutter of stacked books amidst coffee stains. I often think of something Dan Sinker, the founder of Punk Planet, wrote once (and I’m paraphrasing from memory here): “The day I’m not excited opening the first box of magazines from the printer is the day I’ll stop making magazines.” The allure of print endures, perhaps best represented by “the queen of books” Irma Boom. We visited the graphic designer’s studio in Amsterdam in Issue 05, too.
As for other habits, I’ve been fortunate to keep up with road trips, preferably on my motorcycle but in a pinch by car or bike, over the last months. My creative life would likely not exist if not for traveling. And I’d classify short rides to less explored parts of Chicago as rejuvenating as a recent drive to the mountains of New Mexico.
Road trips hit the reset button on my brain; they rinse the film from my eyes. And, maybe most importantly, hours on the road scrubs away my cynicism. The world is not as divided as it may seem; all is not lost. Your work, and your viewpoint, is important—however minor, weird, fraudulent, or inconsequential it may seem at times. It’s an important addition to the world and culture we are making together, your follower count and bank roll aside. We think Issue 05 is a celebration of that. It’s an oddball selection of creative people attempting to do their best and willing to share their entire messy journey with the world.
Chris Force is the editor-in-chief of Sixtysix