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Genius is as Genius Does

Blog Definition Magnifier by Stuart MilesI’ve been trying to spend my time more wisely these days.  I come back to my blog when I need to.  I believe it has merit—the connections I’ve made, the simple and lovely practice of writing and the ability to communicate with a broad range of individuals from all over brings me a sense of contentment, accomplishment.

I feel as if I know some of you.  I respect your opinion and insight.  We trade that back and forth, akin to a face-to-face friendship.  You blog so you get it.  We share and commiserate.

Sharing

Alanis had one hand in her pocket.  I've got more than that.

Alanis had one hand in her pocket. I’ve got way more in mine.

I have Pocket, on my iPad, an app that gives you the option to view things later.  I’ll throw all kinds of articles and ideas in it.  Once you sign up, the Pocket people will send you articles that they think you may find interesting.

I Found This Interesting

The Pocket people sent me the article, The Daily Routine of Geniuses by Sarah Green from the Harvard Business Review Blog.  She wrote about a genius to-do list from a book she read entitled, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Curry.  She dug through all the “hodgepodge” of what hundreds of geniuses did and found that a daily routine was necessary to many really, really smart people.

Rituals and routines are essential.  If we don’t have them, we feel disoriented, purposeless. I’m not saying I’m a genius but I’d like to think I can do some things pretty well.  And, even if I’m not a genius, I can certainly adapt genius habits.

Imitate Me, Flatter Me

I like how you do that.  I think I'll do it like that.  Now move, let me pick his head.

I like how you do that. I think I’ll do it like that. Now move, let me pick his head.

I believe if you act as if, you’ll get there quicker.  I believe in mimicking those who you want to be like.  I’m summing up very briefly below what creative geniuses do according to Ms. Green. (You should read her article if you haven’t already–it’s good).

  • A good workspace, your own sweet sacred spot where no one disturbs you.
    Our new digs from our recent move is different. The space feels cramped, not exactly me.  Bad feng shui, meaning your sacred space needs to feel good with you in it.  If it doesn’t you won’t either, so I’m working on that.
  • Some kind of exercise no matter what, no matter what you’ve got going on.
    Green gives examples of several smarties who walk or walked a lot.  I walk at least five times a week.  I lift things up and put them down pretty regularly too.
  • Hold yourself accountable.
    I have a to-do list (you’ve seen my giant chalkboard) and it helps me to hold myself accountable.  Green mentions Hemingway tracked his daily output of writing on a chart.  I bought Scrivener (the software for writers) to do this when I write.  Now I need to get the daily thing down and I’ll be all set.
  • Work time and play time and “never the twain shall meet,” but they do, don’t they?
    With blogging, email (and other social media that I don’t do and feel unworthy because I don’t), I let these things intermingle sometimes.  There’s multitasking and there’s focus.  If I have a deadline, I’m good at separating this.  If I don’t, I’m not.
  • Stop before you run out of steam.
    This was a surprising one to me.  We are such a go, go, get results society.  Why would anyone stop if she/he were on a roll?  Apparently geniuses do.  Why?  So that you can walk away and think.  You don’t get so bogged down from all that grey matter neuron firing and become exhausted.  If you don’t stop before that happens, you probably won’t go back to your genius work for days.  Makes sense if you think about it.  Now stop thinking about it and let it go.  I’m not good at this.  I’m like a dog with bone—I can’t let go when I’m on a roll.
  • Someone that gets you and a limited social life.
    I’m lucky that I have someone who gets me, my neurosis, my many moods and encourages my writing—really supports it.  We enjoy each other’s company more than anyone else’s so we’re not big social butterflies.  Supposedly, living an “uncluttered life,” to include not having tons of social obligations is necessary for creative geniuses.  I’m good with that.

Green mentions that Pablo Picasso and his sweetie proclaimed Sundays as “at-home” day.  Who’d thought I was doing a genius thing all this time?

Was this Pablo's idea of a stay at home Sunday?

Was this Pablo’s idea of a stay at home Sunday?

***

I’ll end this with my own “genius” habits that I do or am constantly working on:

  • Read, read, read.
    Everyday.  A newspaper, magazine, books, something outside what you normally do every once in awhile.  Just read—it expands your horizon and your brain.  Stephen King said:  “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
  • Be grateful.
    This one’s tough when you’re going through a rough time in your life.  But there’s always going to be rough times.  It’s how we handle them that makes the difference—it can make or break you.
  • Be kind and practice patience.
    Even when someone’s not giving you the same.  Makes you feel better and you look smarter when your face is not all snarled up. Patience takes years of practice and some of us are better at it than others.  I think it comes with maturity and I think geniuses most likely have it.  Marie Curie had to share her first Nobel Prize in physics in 1903.  It took her eight more years to be a sole winner of one, by the time she was 44.
  • Don’t worry so much.
    Write this down—step by step—how to do this and let me know.  If you can figure this out, you’re a genius.  I’ve been trying to get this right since I learned how to worry.
  • Share your knowledge, show someone how, teach.
    I think geniuses do this graciously and generously.  They can’t wait to share what they know so that an idea grows, maybe even gets better.
  • Listen to good music.
    When you really listen to a fine piece of music, you can hear not just the instruments that make up the sound and rhythms, but the soul that went into composing and creating it, which really is the most important part.  According to some accounts, Einstein hated sports because they made him “dizzy and tired,” but loved music.  I have so much in common with this genius and didn’t even realize it, except he learned how to play the violin at six and well, I didn’t, but I do love music.

***

What genius habits do you have?

 Photo creds:  Einsten, Alanis Morisette, Picasso:  Wikipedia Creative Commons; Blog Magifier:  Free Digital Photos, Stuart Miles; Monkeys: Pixaby.
 
References:  Albert Einstein.  IQ: 150+ Smartest woman ever.

About Brigitte

Writer/Editor/Wanderer

Discussion

48 thoughts on “Genius is as Genius Does

  1. I love this list. Not saying I’m anywhere near a genius (!) but I do identify with many of the points. Thanks!

    Posted by Jennifer's Journal | April 16, 2014, 9:36 am
    • Hi Jennifer, Great to see you. I’m the same way. I can adapt some of the habits to perhaps work my way closer to genius-ness. Ha! Thanks for stopping by.

      Posted by Brigitte | April 16, 2014, 10:02 am
  2. Brilliant post! I absolutely believe that we’re all born “genius” in our own unique ways :))

    Posted by simplejoysofheaven | April 16, 2014, 10:31 am
  3. So true! Since I’m not playing competitive tennis this spring, I’ve been missing my regular exercise. I hate taking all the time to go to the gym. Instead, Danny gave me an exercise bike. SCORE!

    Posted by susielindau | April 16, 2014, 11:00 am
    • Susie, I’m good at competing against myself. I always preferred solitary sports, not sure why that is. Though I believe in time off from technology, I often use it when I’m on the treadmill or bike. Nice deal on the bike there, girl. Thanks, Susie.

      Posted by Brigitte | April 16, 2014, 11:23 am
  4. I adhere pretty well to all those items from the article except the “Work time and play time and ‘never the twain shall meet’,” one. I used to shut down all Internet and social media during my “off” time, but now I find I’ll check my phone for tweets, etc. while I’m watching TV or reading. This is a no-no, and I need to get back to a complete shut-down. Otherwise I don’t get any downtime. But as a family, we never bring phones to the dinner table or during any other family activity. I tell my sons they can’t, so I can’t be a hypocrite and do the opposite. Plus, I don’t want to. We have to take our time with our teenagers when we can.

    Wonderful post. Relevant to so many of us. And I like your genius habits, too, though I need to work on that patience one sometimes. :)

    Posted by Carrie Rubin | April 16, 2014, 11:03 am
    • I thought you would, Carrie. I unplug on Sundays. It’s addicting all the tools we have at our disposal to check this or that, but it can be maddening at times too. I wonder how brains will be affected by all this instant gratification. That’s a whole other subject, one of which I’m sure geniuses are studying and sooner or later we’ll be hearing all the ways in which it does.

      I’m glad you don’t do the phone texting, checking, tweeting thing at the dinner table. I admire you for that. I grew up having to come to the dinner table. Even if we didn’t say much to each other, we all sat at the dinner table and ate a meal together. And trust me, I still don’t have that patience one down. Not by a long shot. Thanks, Carrie.

      Posted by Brigitte | April 16, 2014, 11:27 am
      • Dinner time to me is sacred. If one of my kids has to miss a family dinner, it better be important. That’s when families talk about their days with each other. Otherwise, when would everyone connect? Of course, that’s also the time my husband and I get endlessly teased by our teenagers. Everything that comes out of our mouths is fair play…

        Posted by Carrie Rubin | April 16, 2014, 11:31 am
      • I agree–there are sacred family times and I hope that generations from now, that’s still the case.

        Yeah, but you have the advantage over that teasing thing. You were once a teenager so you and your hubs kind of know what to expect and can deflect before it comes out of their mouths, right? ha!

        Posted by Brigitte | April 16, 2014, 11:34 am
      • I’m much better at that than my husband. That sweet man has no sensors to forewarn of oncoming heckling. :)

        Posted by Carrie Rubin | April 16, 2014, 12:20 pm
      • Men, bless ‘em. They usually never see it coming. Simple creatures, really. I mean that in the best way possible. Task, focus, problem solved. You know what I mean.

        Posted by Brigitte | April 16, 2014, 12:25 pm
      • Absolutely. It’s a compliment. I often tell my husband I wish I could operate on a level plane like he does. :)

        Posted by Carrie Rubin | April 16, 2014, 12:31 pm
  5. The list resonates with me — hard to always follow, but good touchstones, indeed. I will have to read the full article you reference (and check out that cool little Pocket app! I had been throwing my “to reads” in Evernote but like the idea of getting recommended reads pushed to me, too).

    Posted by Kat at travelgardeneat | April 16, 2014, 11:43 am
    • Hi Kat–welcome! I recommend you do read it–it’s great and sparked this idea for me. The list is hard to follow but most likely gets easier the more one practices it. I’ve not used Evernote but have heard some like that as well. The thing is you can throw a lot in the Pocket and pretty soon there’s a lot in there! But it’s good for when you do have time to go back and read. Nice to see you here and thanks!

      Posted by Brigitte | April 16, 2014, 11:57 am
  6. These are all really great tips and I’m amazed at how many of these things I already do! It’s high time I’ve visited you again, it’s been far too long and I hope you and life in general are going well Brigitte!
    Diana xo

    Posted by dianasschwenk | April 16, 2014, 12:16 pm
    • Diana, we two geniuses are thinking alike. I swear I was thinking the same thing about your blog—I mean that! I’ve been out of circulation for awhile but miss it. I hope you and yours are doing great as well and I’m headed over to your place.

      Posted by Brigitte | April 16, 2014, 12:22 pm
  7. Great post, Brigitte! I agree. Rituals and routines are essential! Especially for freelancers. In the mornings, I now crank up the classical station and brew a pot of coffee. My place then flaunts a book shop smell and feel. For some reason this inspires me. Crazy, eh? It works like a charm each and every time! T.

    Posted by Theadora Brack | April 16, 2014, 12:18 pm
    • I know exactly what you mean, T. What’s a workspace without coffee? Einstein’s favorite music was classical which I love as well. And of course, it figures you would. I think that whole coffeeshop/bookshop thing inspires many writers. Myself included. So nice to see you here, my friend.

      Posted by Brigitte | April 16, 2014, 12:24 pm
  8. Wonderful post, Brigitte! I’d say genius-level. :-) I will say that I do a number of these things. Just last week, I did a huge cleaning out of my art studio to make it easier for me to shoot my still-life photography pieces and also to clear off my drafting table so I could mat prints. Yes, I am now working on selling my pieces – in part thanks to you and your generous encouragement. I also exercise regularly and I do make myself stop and process. Whether writing or doing photography, I try to separate the creative process from the editing process. If I give myself some space I find I can do a better job with the end product.

    Posted by Cathy Ulrich | April 16, 2014, 12:29 pm
    • Why thank you, Cathy! Isn’t it great to de-clutter. There’s something so liberating about that. I’m working on getting my own art studio. I’ve always wanted one. That’s a sacred space for me and one that I keep wanting to return to again and again.

      I’m so happy for you about your selling your incredible photos! If I had a grain of anything to do with that, then that makes me feel good about me—thanks so much for that, Cathy. I know it will prove to be a very successful venture for you and a very soul-satisfying one as well.

      So great to see you here again and thank you.

      Posted by Brigitte | April 16, 2014, 12:37 pm
  9. you made me laugh with your “face all snarled up” comment. Sundays are usually our sacred day as well.. lately not so much. I’m not much of a genious…little garbled up :) But I walk walk walk and talk talk to myself.. that is insanity knocking at my door. (As you can see from this stupid comment) Laughing. I am going to end it here. I am happy to see you writing on your blog. I have missed your voice my friend. Very much.

    Posted by unfetteredbs | April 16, 2014, 12:44 pm
    • HA! You know what I mean, right? I’ve seen people whose faces are snarled up and it ain’t pretty, ya know? I know mine has been that way and I’d rather it not. I hope everything has smoothed out for you a bit—your commitments have been many lately—? And talking to yourself, I’ve always heard is a sign of genius. I’ve always talked to myself too, Audra. So I’m declaring it as a genius thing. So there.

      It’s nice to be missed, thank you, sweet. But right back at you. I could use a fresh breath of A poetry. Be well, you. xo

      Posted by Brigitte | April 16, 2014, 12:50 pm
      • Yes. I know what you mean. That’s why I laughed. Sometimes I feel like a perpetual snarler or come across as one. But I’m not really. Just seriously concentrating and listening. Say a prayer and send some good mojo… Big stuff went in on Monday. Working on my final for class 2 today. If everything goes well… It’s go time.

        Posted by unfetteredbs | April 16, 2014, 12:58 pm
      • Done and done—prayer and good mojo to you. I told you it was going to turn out great and it will, you little genius you.

        Side note: Have you read The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh? It’s great and she was a librarian and software developer. Now a stay-at-home Mom in Missouri. Coolio, huh?

        Posted by Brigitte | April 16, 2014, 1:21 pm
      • I have read reviews of that.. and no not yet but my list is growing. Not done done but CLOSE, if the passing grade is good then I proceed with the research and FINISH. IF IF IF.
        I am getting really excited about all the extra time I am going to have to READ for fun. Whatever will I do with all my time.

        Posted by unfetteredbs | April 16, 2014, 1:31 pm
      • you’ll think of something. how about writing poetry?

        There is no if, sister. YOU WILL.

        Posted by Brigitte | April 16, 2014, 1:34 pm
      • Ps. You’re a true source of support and I thank you

        Posted by unfetteredbs | April 16, 2014, 12:59 pm
      • Back at you, Audra.

        Posted by Brigitte | April 16, 2014, 1:21 pm
  10. The workspace one is big for me. I’m naturally sensitive to the environment around me so I need to be in the right kind of space before I can really start working. Luckily I’m not too picky when it comes to how my space is set up, as long as its in my own room with no one else around me. (Hence, I don’t work in the library and don’t often go to cafes either.) Friday is typically my “off” day so unless there are some seriously pressing projects or deadlines, I give myself that one day to do whatever I want and NOT feel guilty about it. The worry thing though…. well, if you ever find a solution, I’d like to know it too because worry seems to have been stamped in my DNA.

    You may not think yourself a genius but this was definitely a genius post to me. And timely! I love that we can be on the same wavelength so often. :)

    Posted by lillianccc | April 16, 2014, 3:59 pm
    • So am I Lillian! Very sensitive to my environments—not just at home, in other places. I’ve learned to honor that weird feeling I get in the pit of my stomach and remove myself from places that make me feel that way.

      Do you think the worry thing is a woman thing or men just hide it better?

      YOU seem like the genius, Lil—your trip to Italy and descriptions about it—genius! Thanks my friend. Great minds think alike, yes? ;)

      Posted by Brigitte | April 16, 2014, 5:00 pm
  11. I do many of these habits, Brig, but since I work a day job that sucks 50 hours out of every week and then there are all the chores I do daily/weekly, plus I do make an effort to see friends at least once a week, I’m spread very thin even before I fire up my ancient MacBook. So I write when I can steal the time. It’s not a routine I recommend, but I’m used to a no-frills lifestyle. But if anyone would suggest I’m a genius, that would be proof that they must be brain damaged.

    Posted by lameadventures | April 16, 2014, 4:35 pm
    • Obviously I have many geniuses that follow me and adhere to these habits so I pride myself on that. Fifty hours is a lot to suck out of a person and I hope you get some enjoyment from it. It sounds as if you’ve got a really cool boss and that’s a definite plus. From your humorous tales, you must like it on some level.

      I read somewhere long ago that Stephen King began writing when he was about 14 or so when he lived in a trailer in no-where’s ville (Maine, I think it was) and that he’d sit between a wall and a washer machine with a typewriter balanced on his lap maniacally typing away at what would become some of his best-selling writing. Some of the really crappy jobs he worked became fodder for seriously creepy short stories.

      So I’m thinking my slightly cramped workspace is just fine. Ha! Thanks, V.

      Posted by Brigitte | April 16, 2014, 5:06 pm
  12. What a great post! I agree with the author’s list as well as your own. And I agree with you — work and play often mingle. Blogging is a great example of that, and for me, so is travel. When I read the bit about Picasso and his sweetie, my first thought was, “which one?” He had so many, and then more on the side ;) This post was a great reminder of keeping perspectives and priorities. Thanks for sharing!

    Posted by Laura | April 16, 2014, 5:51 pm
    • Hi Laura—great to see you! I really liked the article and was happy to note that I and so many people that stop by here practice these habits, yourself included. Big shocker that Picasso was a womanizer—is that the correct term? Those moody, dramatic and artistic types are just that—full of verve and a lust for life—ha!

      So glad you enjoyed and thanks or dropping by.

      Posted by Brigitte | April 16, 2014, 6:10 pm
  13. Everyone worries Brigitte, it’s natural. The trick I learnt after years of ulcers and migraines was to meditate every day. Usually at the end of the day before I go to bed, I sit in my room quietly, close my eyes and just let my mind drift to my worry free ‘room’. This is where I breathe deep, with each breath in I think of good things, every breath out I let out worries and ‘watch’ them go out a window. It took some time, but it does help reduce stress and worry. And sometimes I can come up with solutions to problems once my mind is empty of all the useless stuff.
    Great post.

    Posted by JackieP | April 16, 2014, 8:30 pm
    • Hey Jackie, nice to see you! Ulcers and migraines? It’s crazy what stress can do and of course, worry is all about that—stress. I think you’re right that everyone does and it’s so needless. I practiced meditation for a while and then stopped after having to move and other life things getting in the way. You are right—it does help. Thank you for reminding me of that and so great to see you here.

      Posted by Brigitte | April 17, 2014, 8:16 am
  14. I’m amazed to see that I actually practice a number of these. Although, that keeping work and play separate is a tough one sometimes. As you can guess from my last post, I’m trying to improve in that area. And setting some deadlines for my writing goals might help me move forward. I deal with them all the time in the day job, so maybe that’s why I’ve tried to avoid them. It could be time to experiment….

    I hope spending your time wisely is resulting in more peace and happiness for you. We all need an oasis like that, especially in this wired world.

    Posted by jmmcdowell | April 17, 2014, 2:56 pm
    • Hi J, I was surprised myself but I think the group around here is pretty freaking smart, you know? I’m doing the same—setting goals. I do the Target thing on Scrivener and today, I tripled my word count! I kind of got lost in the writing which is always a nice place to be. I took the advice of geniuses though and stopped even though I could have gone on. I’m not used to doing that but I’m glad I did because now I can’t wait to get back to you.

      I think we all need to allow ourselves the luxury of unwiring. Good for the soul and everyone around us, right? Great to see you here and I hope you’re hitting many of your writing goals. I’ll be glad you see where you are when you decide to come back for awhile. Thanks, J.

      Posted by Brigitte | April 17, 2014, 3:39 pm
  15. I gave up worrying for Lent…decades ago, Brigitte. One of my spiritual teachers said: don’t look back, and don’t look too far forward because you’ll scare yourself. I understood that my worrying was essentially fear about stuff that was too far in the future. I was both fearful and worried because I had not yet developed the skills and wisdom I needed to get past that point. I make a practice of living in the present moment. If I find myself teetering toward worry, I know I’m looking too far ahead and scale it back a notch, or two, or however many I need to scale back until I know I can do it. Invariably, when I reach that sweet spot, the whole array of choices before me changes and I find my way without worrying. It takes practice. Like patience, another of my practices. xoxoM

    Posted by Margarita | April 21, 2014, 1:09 pm
    • My rational brain knows all these things, M. And I’m good at it some days but others not so much. Like can’t sleep at night for things bombarding my brain and it’s not necessarily big-time worry things. Just things. I’m beginning to think it’s a hormonal woman thing or maybe I just get it genetically. Meditation helps, as does writing fiction. When I’m focused, I’m in the moment and really, that’s all we have. The rest is just an illusion, huh? So nice to see you here and at your place.

      Happy Spring! Thanks, M. xo

      Posted by Brigitte | April 21, 2014, 5:49 pm
      • Yes, that mind chattering in the middle of the night can sure get me wound up, too. Mantra repetition is nothing more than focusing the mind. So, pick a comforting word to repeat while you focus your attention on the breath. It’s a practice, Brigitte. No matter how many years I practice, the lapses happen. I think it’s called being human. It’s okay to lapse, as long as you resume your practice. It’s nice to visit again! xoxoM

        Posted by Margarita | April 21, 2014, 7:12 pm
  16. Hmm… I don’t have many. I don’t worry or at least not very often. I used to fret all the time. I had shingles when I was 19. That was when I began the journey to no worrying because I didn’t want to get really sick. One of the things I read back then helped me: “Worrying is like paying interest on a debt you never owed.”

    I think patience comes more easily as you age, don’t you agree? And some days it is easier than others.

    xo mag

    Posted by Maggie O'C | April 21, 2014, 5:43 pm
    • Hey Maggie. I like that adage, sounds like a quote to add to my list of many. I’ve heard that can be very painful. And yes, I’m sure worry added to stress and we all know the havoc that can wreak on my emotional, spiritual and physical well-being!

      And I do agree that patience comes with age. As does wisdom I hope! And yes, some days I’m better at it (both patience and wisdom) than others. Thanks, Mags, great to see you. xo

      Posted by Brigitte | April 21, 2014, 5:51 pm
  17. Hey, I feel like I’m on the right track (though I feel FAR!!! from genius) – especially with Picasso’s rule. Big D and I have always made Sundays “our day”.

    I think I’m going to bookmark this page, and review it at the beginning of every week. Thanks, Brigitte.

    Posted by Noted in Nashville | April 22, 2014, 6:49 pm
    • I’m telling you, I have so many genius followers (yourself included). As a creative person yourself, you know how routine is so important. It’s easy to get scattered if you don’t have one. Know what I mean? And yes, Sunday is OUR day. I love it.

      Whether you mean your bookmarking my blog page or Green’s page, I take that as a wonderful compliment. Either way, I’m happy that you’ve gleaned some good stuff from it. Always wonderful to you, Anita!

      Posted by Brigitte | April 22, 2014, 9:01 pm

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