How To Get Better at Creating
Creating stuff is how I earn my living. Deconstructing my creative process; is that possible?
The last thing I created was a song with my music partner, Erik. As I walked I analyzed the process of creating new music with him.
I thought about how magical the moment of creating is. What control do I really have over this thing that I created?
Then I thought about all the pre-work, the woodshedding, the practice that brought me to sit across the room from him and play music.
That is step one...the doing: dream big but you must do the work. Get good at doing.
Magic and handwork go hand in hand when creating something new. This is an enigma that I will gladly hold true to my heart. Fingers, strings, and a piece of wood is an endless problem that I have no need to solve. Yet, I know if I continue to put in the time and do the work, musical gifts will be rewarded. That does not resolve my question, “how do things get created?”
We sit in this small room four feet a part. Erik holding a Fender stratocaster, me holding a Fender Jazz bass. We toss out musical ideas that we have been playing with... not songs, but small zygotes in the earliest developmental stage of music.
A groove presents itself. Something from nothing arises, something new.
We move into a state of repetition. Simply playing the groove over and over to see what presents itself. We look up at each other and know that we have stumbled onto something good.
Repetition is step two. Repetition is the next step after practicing. It's about going deeper into whatever may turn up. It's about exploring. Possibilities are discovered in repetition. There is joy in repetition.
Great things arise out of shit. It's an uncomfortable thought for sure, nonetheless repetition brought us to this new piece of music.
Music is now alive and with us, within our control. Repetition leads to release and the music becomes transformative. All academic approach to music is gone; fingers and string, revelations and reverberations...this is music.
Release is step three. At the point of release you no longer ask the question of why or how; conscious thought dissolves and you become a witness (or listener) to what has emerged. Release is a phenomena yet it is a phenomena with a purpose.
Erik and I are both “do-ers” of music. We are good at picking up our instruments and running our hands up and down the neck. Practicing our instrument is not a chore. Practicing our instrument is an escape. Repetition leads to a release. That is the religious framework that sets us up to go deeper into the mystery. Staying with the mystery is the mystical experience of where something new comes from.
Step four, stay with the mystery.
Creating things feels good. Writing this feels good. Playing guitar feels good. Whatever you create I am sure that it feels good. Being present at the moment of creating feels good.
Skeptics may criticize that my experiential ramblings are for not; that music is a scholarly skill that is rooted in scales and chart. That creating is a scientific study not to be overly romanticized.
I will leave you with this thought:
There are three things that you can do in the image of God:
...love, forgive and create.