In my last blog, I talked about some of the brain science of creativity and innovation. Now, we have the yin to the yang: creation not as science but as magical, mystical, even inexplicable. I’m not the only one to acknowledge the unanswerable when it comes to composition. Take a walk through some comments from some of the most creative people on the planet:

“I pick up the pen and God moves it” (Hank Williams).

“The songs are there…just waiting for someone to write them down – if I didn’t do it, someone else would” (Bob Dylan).

“If I need a melody, I pluck it out of the air” (Willie Nelson).

“Some days, it gets very, very spooky” (Lionel Richie).

“I wrote ‘If I Needed You’ in my sleep” (Townes Van Zandt).

“Even the best gardener can’t make a single flower” (Robert Wyatt).

Moments You Can’t Rehearse

When it comes down to it, sometimes, there are no definitive answers – only perspectives. This is an era of ambiguity; get used to the inability to control everything. As a matter of fact, the ability to live and work with ambiguity is a much sought-after competency today. The paradigm of always needing to have all the answers is a dying one.

The same is true as it relates to creativity. Most songwriters can’t differentiate a “hit” until after the fact. Who knows whether the latest movie will fly … or flop, climb or crash. Sometimes, we can’t predict and control the process of original or interpretive creation any more than we can control the weather. We can only prepare for them and take full advantage when they do come.

Let’s do something different – we can’t help but get better:

  1. Make yourself ready: All acts of creativity and innovation carry a common denominator; they will evoke. When creativity strikes, will we feel compelled to think, feel or do?
  2. Respond: Try to capture or at least nurture the result. When magic happens, quit trying to figure it out … try instead to enjoy it and profit from it.