If one were to Google “This Is Your Brain On…”(fill in the blank), they would find everything from drugs, to football, to Jane Austen. This Is Your Brain On Music spent over a year on the New York Times bestseller list. Empathetic humans have a basic need and survival tendency to understand ourselves, and our behavior. Music has proven to be somewhat of an outlier and unifier simply due to the capability for a universal method of notation and expression. The expansion and sharing of music leaps from country to country, from people group to the academy and back again like wildfire. In culture, it is often a greatest common factor.
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Entries in creative process (8)
If you’re a musician, you probably get asked whether you do original songs or covers. And as unassuming as that question sounds, it’s actually a hornet’s nest buzzing with speculation on your intent, ambition, and talent. Do you have your own thoughts? Do you have something engaging and identifiable to say? Or do you just echo the ideas of other writers?
Are you an artist or a mimic?
Why do you make music? Write books? Make films? You might know, you might not. Either way, you do it for a specific reason. Maybe it’s to explore. Maybe it’s to affect other people. Maybe it’s to inject a little fun and excitement into your life.
That reason gives your creative work context. So does your interest in sharing what you do. If you share your work with your family, that’s context. If you share it with your friends and acquaintances, that’s context, too. If you share it with everyone you can, every chance you get, like an Energizer Bunny of sharing, that’s context, as well. And if you keep it to yourself? That is a context all its own.
Keith Sawyer, a psychologist at Washington University, has summarized the science: “Decades of research have consistently shown that brainstorming groups think of far fewer ideas than the same number of people who work alone and later pool their ideas.”
Eight years ago, I left college with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music. Untested and honestly, quite naive, I spent the next three years using money from designing websites freelance to ineffectively tour as an artist around the country, gigging myself into over $6k of high interest credit card debt. Embarrassed and defeated, I stopped writing, I stopped playing music outside of my home, and my answer to “what do you do?” begrudgingly changed from music to websites.
Fast forward to today and I’ve been debt free for over 2 years. Within that time, I self-funded my own full-length record from cash and recently started a music marketing company to promote independent artists. I took 2 months, wrote/recorded and shot a video for one song a week about anything my blog readers submitted and released them all for FREE, and I’m currently in the process of booking the most extensive tour I’ve ever played.
How did I do it? I want to show you and show that you can too with 5 simple rules.
Kurt Cobain blew his head off, even Martin Mills has a Maseratti and Amy Winehouse’s blood is not on Island Record’s hands.
The music industry is a strange thing. Full of a lot of mushy stuff that just loves being squished into its tight little cubicle alongside all the other mushy stuff.
James Blunt is the suburban front lawn of artists – there’s a song, there’s an album a cover, there’s a hit, there’s a car.
Most great artists are like the annoying neighbour that ignores your invite to the neighbourhood barbecue, the one that keeps letting his garden grow slightly wild, the one who ‘doesn’t care’ (but really does).
Do you ever dodge your creative work? Say, your practice time arrives, and you race off to do some chore. It might be a chore that you detest, but now it calls to you. Then, instead of refining your music, you start cleaning the house or doing whatever. If that scenario sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Artists of every sort contend with avoidant behaviors. Why do we sidestep doing what we love? The answer often stems from the nature of creativity.
Whether we plan to create the likes of a recording, composition, concert tour or promo campaign, we have to launch our project and work on it regularly. But we all know that creative ventures often fizzle because we, the would-be creators, stall. We convince ourselves that no one will care. We procrastinate. In the end, far too many of us never get started on the things we hope to create and thereby cheat ourselves out of meaningful accomplishment.
Personally, I don’t intend to miss out on forging a meaningful life. I’m committed to doing the creative work that matters to me. The key to my output is that I live by the following six habits that enable me to get started on my projects every day.
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(Updated Feb 25, 2014)