When Does Creativity Strike?

Today I’m pondering the thought of WHEN DOES CREATIVITY STRIKE?

Meaning, when does it not just kind of happen, but when does it come with a whirlwind of force?

Now I’m certainly no expert, but in analyzing that concept this morning, I think I’ve narrowed it down to 3 specific predictable times or situations. I’m interested to see if any of you feel the same.

#1 – FORCED

With my job or with freelance assignments I’ll accept, the occasion arrises where something (usually a music bed, song track or a soundtrack/score for a video of sorts in my case) needs to be created. There’s usually a goal in mind, such as a desired emotion or an existing video that needs to be enhanced emphasized through music.

So that – at least for me – is actually easier than having a blank canvas. It becomes a task to build off an existing item or desired result. There’s also a DEADLINE that exists, so that, for some reason, seems to get the creative juices flowing. Not to mention that I’ll put in some crazy hours (nights, weekends) to meet that deadline.

There’s also a REFINEMENT in the creative process as you collaborate back and forth with the assignor. You give them a version, they comment, you refine, and that cycle continues until everyone is happy. (That process is a whole ‘nother topic – believe you me!)

So there’s #1 – a reason to do something because someone has put their trust in you and your creative interpretation, and is counting on you to complete the task within a certain timeframe.

#2 – SPONTANEOUS

Every once in a while this happens, at least for me. It’s not planned or forced, but almost happens by accident due to your surroundings. You happen to be alone and sit at the piano or pick up a guitar to work on something else, and before you know it, you’re off to the races in a total different direction.

This happened for me a TON when I was in middle and high school, practicing piano for hours a day. You talk about a situation ripe for musical tangents! But Mom would let me go for a while before reigning in those creative juices. But from that, it nurtured the creative side of music for me, not just the discipline of practicing.

Spontaneous creativity for many musicians also comes when we’re doing music of some kinds with other musicians – especially those we respect and trust creatively. The instantly gratifying exchange of ideas and feeding off each others’ energy is great – not to mention the real-time critique of what’s being created. You might like something a lot, but the look on the rest of the faces will let you know when you’re right – or wrong!

#3 – PLANNED

This is the toughest for me. It’s a whole new discipline that I’m only starting to learn. The other concepts come natural – like a byproduct of my job and hobbies. But the concept of planned creativity without a real deadline is foreign to my nature.

And guilt. That’s another issue I struggle with in this regards. Taking a planned time away from my work or family so that I can attempt to be creative? I’m pretty sure that’s not part of any MBA program or marriage book…

Or maybe it is. One of the things that doing The Artist’s Way helped me realize is that I’m not going to ever be satisfied with me – as a whole person – unless I have a specific outlet for my creative side. And that without that, over time, I’m not going to be nearly the man (and husband and father) that I could be.

So that’s where I am today. Only starting to follow the example set by some great friends and respected colleagues, and set aside disciplined time to create.

– – – – –

So what about YOU – do any of these match your creative lifestyle?

Is one harder than the others?

Are you presenting yourself opportunities to exercise your creative energy?

Let me know what you think!



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One thought on “When Does Creativity Strike?

  1. FORCED – Like you, most of my creativity comes when I’ve got a deadline and someone has given me a specific task. If the pastor is preaching on a specific topic and wants a video or an original song (or a video synced with a song) to illustrate it, I can usually produce a much better work than if I had started with neither a deadline or a specific request. It’s like in the olden days when the great Reformers would write hymns to illustrate their sermons. That type of commissioning can result in some of the best works of art — fueled by Scripture and with a specific audience in mind.

    SPONTANEOUS – Apart from that process, every other song I have written has come unexpectedly after a time of personal worship (many times while playing keyboard with 7|22 or a Passion album). Playing with others always gets the creative juices flowing!

    PLANNED – The one thing I’m not good about is planned creativity. Staring at a blank page is too intimidating. Perhaps instead of focusing on controlling what is coming out of our creative minds (which seems impossible), it would be better to focus on what we’re putting in them. If we plan to feed our minds and souls good things that inspire creativity — Scripture, good teaching, other people’s music, etc. — then that creates fertile soul for creativity to bloom. And it’s a no fail situation! You’re edified by learning about and communing with God even if no great work of art comes out of it! There’s a lot less pressure that way.

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