what is creativity?
I think creativity can be regarded as a combination of inspiration that provokes action. And that action is the root point for the creation (or modification/distortion…) of something. I get inspired by all kinds of things. It’s almost like I’m standing out in the rain and every drop is a point of inspiration. All I really need to do is sit quietly and allow myself to accept all the different offers that are being made every moment. Then when I’m particularly excited by one idea – it becomes easy to make the move to action.
I think my improvisation practice has helped me a lot with this, because it really forced me to see the world as a place of offers. We can accept or decline offers, and that is a choice we can make consciously or habitually. Consciously taking offers that are outside my comfort zone leads to new experiences, but can be scary.
Realising that I regularly blocked my own offers (for example I get some inspiration and then think it’s not worth exploring) was quite an eye opener. By learning to recognise where I was blocking myself, it became easier to just let go and create in the moment.
There is a book called “the artist’s way” – that spends quite a lot of time on how we block our own creativity. One thing I remember from the book is that when we aesthetically judge something – we use a part of our brain that is analytical – we are comparing our ideas to our experience of the world. And this can block our originality, our own style. Learning to let go of this judgement allows us to create new things in new ways.
John Cage wrote about an idea for musical performance, which I have adapted to my own creative explorations. He said that there are 3 parts to a performance. The initial composition, the performance and then the audience experiencing the whole thing. I realised that the rational part of my mind (responsible for blocking my ideas) was like getting the audience involved when I should have been composing or performing. So now when I create I often take my inspiration, adapt it into a ‘score’ or an idea I can ‘perform’. Then I let go of all my judgement and just get down to the performance, with no regard to the output. I end up with a whole lot of stuff to start sifting through with the ‘audience/judgemental’ side of my mind that helps me choose the juiciest bits.
An example of this was my latest track – Frustration. I got home and wanted to write a song about frustration (score). I was ready to let go and freestyle words (performance). Then I sat down and did a cut and paste job on the 20 minutes of vocals to get something I liked (audience).