Things I Have In Common With Don Draper

These are some of the things I accomplished during the last hour:

  • rearranged the icons on my iPhone
  • sorted and renamed my Google Reader feeds
  • added a few bookmarklets to my bookmarks bar
  • explored Pinterest
  • cleaned my desk
  • listened to the same song on repeat

This may not seem like much, but I consider it a fairly good hour’s work when facing a creative deadline.

Bryan and I started watching Mad Men on Netflix streaming this weekend, and I love watching the subtleties of Don Draper’s creative process play out during each episode. It seems – and I would agree with this – the creator never really stops creating. Whether engaging with family, reading the paper, or making love, there is a distracting thought spinning in the back of our minds, connecting everything we’re experiencing to the idea that’s been nagging at us.

And it’s maddening to get stuck in a tip-of-the-tongue suspension state, like wracking my brain trying to remember That Guy’s name and it’s just not coming to me.

Running sometimes knocks the ideas loose. So does rearranging the icons on my iPhone. Wasting time is not always wasted time.

One scene of Mad Men opened with Draper sitting in his office, smoking, staring at the wall in a haze of dim light. His boss walked in, hesitated, then said, “I still can’t get used to the fact you’re actually working when you do that.”

Yes, the creator must have space to mull it over, to let it sit, to knock it around a bit. It may not look like we’re working, but trust me… we are.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go for a walk.

2 thoughts on “Things I Have In Common With Don Draper”

  1. I want to hug you for this! So hard getting people to understand this about my work as both a writer and an academic. So much takes place up in my head long before it becomes tangible objects!

  2. Awesome. So true. I pretty much run for the purpose of figuring things out. Haven’t seen mad men but this might inspire me to check it out.

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