5 Tips for Achieving an Analogue State of Mind
The upcoming realm of the much-hailed Internet of Things (hands up, who hasn’t heard this expression at least a dozen times in the past 24 hours?) will have a fundamental impact on us. We already know the cliché: everything will be connected to and with everything. Our lives will become 'smarter' in every aspect. Super-connectedness will create a random-access, fast-forward reality with large-scale efficiency, productivity and comfort we cannot even imagine.
It sounds promising, right? Unfortunately, what this 'digital paradise' gives with one hand, it takes away with the other. We’ve already experienced how innovation and technology is speeding up our everyday existence; that there’s less waiting, less downtime, less time to take a deep breath or take a step back. Consequently, being digitally wired means that there’s less room for unpredictability, for surprise-triggered excitement – not to mention those happy accidents that make this life so wonderfully human.
Since we’re in the creative industry, wanting to keep ourselves idea-fit and -fresh, we need to compensate for this 'handicap', somehow. As a matter of fact, the holiday season offers great opportunities to slightly distance ourselves from this digital reality, and recognise the importance of analogue moments – and start putting them back into our everyday lives deliberately.
Okay, but how do we do that?
Slowing. Things. Down.
That’s the quintessence of my analogue thinking; and the ultimate method of introducing randomness and chance into the creative process.
So here are five useful tips/exercises that might help you to slow things down and achieve an analogue state of mind, thus improving your creative outputs – not only during the festive season.
1. Walk, rather than drive, whenever possible. Or take the bus, travel by tube or train… it’s up to your public transport system, but the point is to give yourself some time for contemplation. Doing a certain amount of walking on a daily basis provides you with fresh thoughts, or even solutions for a given problem. That’s a strange phenomenon, but it does exist. (And walking is good for your health, too!)
2. Put your Kindle and screens away. Read a book. A physical one. The smell of the paper and the ink (especially if it’s a newly published book) is truly magical; just like the sound of the pages as you’re flipping through them. And here’s an advanced tip for the brave ones: go to a public library, and try finding a specific book on the open shelves. It’s an exhilarating experience being exposed to titles and books you wouldn’t have encountered any other way. And strangely enough, it allows interesting, unexpected thoughts to creep in as well.
3. Get a Moleskine, a Biro pen (apropos: did you know that it was invented by a Hungarian?), and start jotting down your ideas, take notes, or doodle carelessly. One page a day will do. Yes, put away the keyboard, switch off your stylus for a while; use Post-it notes, play with different colours, create idea cards, organise them randomly, mix them up, tear them into little pieces. You’ll discover how meditative, unpredictable, yet inspiring the process is.
4. Buy an analogue camera, and some rolls of film. Start shooting pictures. I mean, real ones. Pictures that take time to compose, to shoot; and to develop, of course. Experiment with the lenses, with the lights, with the films. Feel the excitement and uncertainty while you’re waiting for the rolls to be developed. Then feel the photo prints in your hands, scatter them all over the living room, and pick your three best shots. It won’t be easy. However, you’ll start seeing the world with analogue eyes again.
5. Get an empty box of Weetabix, and build a paper rocket out of it with the help of your five year-old son. If you have an older daughter, then try making an animal hospital for Lego Friends – still using the same Weetabox. While working on the project, listen to them carefully, and incorporate their ideas into the construction. You’ll never know what thingy you’re going to come up with. However, it will be cool. (Additional tip: if you don’t have any kids yet, start working on it; it’s an extremely analogue activity.)
Turning yourself towards analogue experiences - letting slowness, time, contemplation and silence enter your life - may sound an old-fashioned concept. But as Walter Murch, the legendary editor and sound designer of such classic films as The English Patient and Apocalypse Now notes: "New technology always gives you what you want, while an older system – with its inherent unpredictability – often gives you what you need."
Analogue thinking may be considered an older system. But we need it – just like Hungarians need their traditional fish soup, stuffed cabbage and poppy seed roll on Christmas Day.