It’s not about always keeping your center but always being able to come back to your center, whatever that center is. That’s our practice.

—Susannah Gebhart

Susannah Gebhart

 

Susannah Gebhart owns OWL bakery: an artisan bakeshop specializing in naturally leavened breads and European-inspired pastries . She runs it “with a rigorous eye, inquisitive palate, exacting standards, and a desire to bring customers products that feed both the spirit and the body.” She lives with her dog, Frederick, in Asheville, NC.

What time do you get up?
Between 5:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. depending on my schedule.

What time do you go to sleep?
Also depending on my schedule and how late I’m working, sometimes I go to bed as early as 8:30 p.m. And sometimes I don’t finish working until 1:30 or 2 a.m. so I’m in bed around 2 a.m..

Is your creative work your full-time job?
Yes.

Do you wait for inspiration before you begin or do you begin regardless of inspiration? I would say that inspiration is a process that starts happening before I make something and continues through the process of making and gets refined after I make my product.

How many hours a day, on average, do you do your creative work?
Between twelve and fifteen.

At what point are you done for the day?
When my kitchen is mopped.

Do you work primarily in the morning, afternoon, or evening?
I wear so many hats so it happens from the moment I get up to the moment I go to bed.

Do you have a daily routine for your creative work?
I do. Many routines.

How does it start?
I assume different roles and so the routines vary based on the role. When I’m in the kitchen it’s getting my space set up, getting my tools out, putting on my apron. Very important. And becoming fully present with the product and the material that I have in front of me.

How does it end?
It’s almost the inverse of when I started. It’s cleaning up my space, putting my tools away, making sure everything is wrapped up literally and figuratively and leaving a clean canvas for the next time.

Do you have a dedicated work space?
Yes.

If yes, do you have anything in your work space to encourage creativity?
I would say that our pantry, our larder, all of our spices is like a palette and the garden is a palette that is continuously inspiring.

How do you stay focused in a world of the internet, social media, interruptions, and other distractions?
Since I work with so many people and interact with so many people on a daily basis there are usually a lot of interruptions but I have a very scheduled process to create my product. Since that has structure I’m able to dip out of it and dip back in and be fully present.

How do you maintain your creative energy? 
I’m very good at taking ten minutes sitting up in a chair. I would say that taking little naps or even taking a physical break from my space and walking my dog or talking to someone about a project would be two of the things that I do to keep my energy up.

What other activities do you engage in to encourage your creativity outside of your creative work time? 
Alone time. being in a quiet space sitting, walking. Also research. I enjoy diving deeper into my craft by exploring the subject matter be it through books or internet searches or other materials intended for my industry.

The deeper stuff...

To listen to the conversation with Susannah on The Creativity Habit Podcast:

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