I love this anecdote about how when things are tough and resources are limited, you can focus better. Because you have to. I’ve written about this before in Sunday Life.
Ray Bradbury was a freelance writer who was trying to support his family. However, he was working at home with his cute little children. This proved to be incredibly distracting, so he had to find somewhere else to write. So, he headed over to UCLA’s Lawrence Clark Powell Library.
In the basement of the library there was a number of typewriters that gave 30 minutes of writing time for a dime.
Ray was very poor at the time, and needed all the money he could to support his family. Whenever he popped in the dime, he wanted to get his month’s worth. This forced him to write at a frantic pace until his time was up. The most frustrating element of writing the novel was when the typewriter keys tangled, because it meant that he was wasting valuable time.
In between these 30 minute typewriter banging sessions, he would wander the halls of the library studying books and contemplating what he would write for the next 30 minutes.
The novel Ray finished was classic sci-fi novel Fahrenheit 451. He created this novel in record amount of time, and recalled feeling as if the flow of time had accelerated. The novel wrote itself, effortlessly.
Tough times are the friction required for launching off into great things. This is why people from grim backgrounds can often go off to contribute marvellous things to life.
And limited resources force you to focus on your creativity.
I often create limited resources when I have to get something done, like my weekly column. I create short deadlines that I have to work to. I make sure they’re REAL deadlines. Like, yesterday, I had to do a phone interview at 3.30. That was my deadline. It meant I couldn’t go down the road for a tea at 11 to read the papers. And I had to turn off my email for a few hours.
What do you do?