30 Minutes - Creativity Quotes by Hugh McLeod and Myself

Hi. It's Joe.

A while ago, I reviewed the book "Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity" by Hugh McLeod, for Derek Sivers (founder of CD Baby). It was a privilege to be selected to review this book, and I have subsequently "paid it forward" by lending the book to other creative types, as Derek suggested.

One of the tenets in the book is not to force inspiration, but to wait for it to come. I have grappled with this one for a while. You can sometimes wait a long time, and if you don't hunt inspiration down and clobber it, sometimes you might not create anything for a long time.

On the other hand, when I wait for inspiration to hit, I generally create some of my best stuff. It doesn't seem forced or cliche or stupid. It's actually pretty good.

By the same token, forcing inspiration, even if it generates crap, is a good exercise. It is literally exercise, in the same way that athletes train for sports. It's not that they want to get up and exercise for hours each day. They just do. And then when they compete, they are in top form.

It's also one of the reasons I do 10 minutes of free writing every day. Most of these blog posts are nothing to write home about. But the exercise of doing them frees my brain waves and, I believe, makes them more receptive to inspiration when it hits.

As a songwriter, I generate my best work when there's a fire of inspiration burning in my belly. But I also do February Album Writing Month (FAWM) every February, and sit down to force song writing inspiration out of my brain every couple of days on average (the goal is to write 14 songs in 28 days).

A lot of my FAWM stuff is mediocre, and I don't deny this. But a small amount of it is very good, and generally inspired by a transient passion of some type. What is important about FAWM is that you go through the mechanics of song writing on a regular basis. Sometimes inspiration won't be there, and you will be blocked. But sometimes the inspiration will be there, and if you didn't sit down to do the songwriting task at hand, you might not have captured it.

So I guess what I am saying is there are two (maybe three) components to creative inspiration. The inspiration itself is the first part. Doing the creative action is the second part. By making time for it, you will sometimes strike gold. If you have inspiration, but never sit down to create something based on it, then the idea is lost. So the more frequently you go through the process and the mechanics of creating, the greater the likelihood of encountering inspiration that leads to a kickass creation.

The third component, that I didn't really emphasize here, is the tools, such as the tools of songwriting. You have to learn the tools of any creative endeavor to do it well. Then you also need to practice with those tools.

For example, part of song writing is recording and production. In the modern age, if you are not going to write songs by putting pen(cil) to paper, then it is necessary to record the music in some other form of tangible media, usually digital recording in a home studio.

A crude analogy to all this would be, if you want to win the lottery, you have to buy a ticket. The difference here is that the tickets only cost time and effort and the chances of a reward are increased the more tickets you buy. So the lottery analogy is a weak one at best.


by Cactus Joe
© 2011 Cactus Joe Productions LLC


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