Because I’m not touring in 2021, (yes, Carnegie Hall cancelled our January show), I decided to start composing again. You might be thinking that I have an album coming out in 3 weeks so why would I be composing for the next one??
When I began working in music, the idea that I would compose without a reason seemed unusual. Now though, creativity is not an unknown mystical concept: now I understand I don’t need a reason to create: it is something I cultivate and nurture, as well as enjoy, and it’s an everyday part of my life. Here are things that enhance output – what I call…Creativity Fuel:
- Clean up your life: Take a look at your life and ask yourself what you want to be doing and how you actually spend your time. In a magical kind of way, I find that if I put my creative pursuits first, I seem to be able to get a lot done afterwards effortlessly.
- Beautify your workspace: I really don’t know why this one works, but it does. I know I can create anywhere, and I certainly know of musicians that write on tour buses or airplanes, but somehow if you create a place you enjoy being in, your projects flourish.
- Be open: There are no boundaries or parameters to creativity, and it is absolutely available to everyone, but be sure you act on this concept: that you don’t impose restrictions or standards that inhibit what yearns to come out. Being open means that you won’t always hit your mark, but you also won’t miss something that might hit it.
- Clarify your reason/s: Do you want to be creative to: have fun, fight boredom, to feel good, for your career, for holiday gifts, for your kids… A strong “why” really helps push you in the right direction, and will propel you on your “doubter days.”
- Commit: One of my personal sayings is “Commitment is King” – nothing else has a higher level of productivity than simply committing to doing something whether it’s for 15 minutes or 5 hours a day. Commitment is an all-encompassing state – you cannot kind of commit or sort of commit – you either are committed or you are not.
- Use what you have: I’d prefer a healthier world like everyone, but I also know that creativity has no bounds. Any event can be fuel for ideas. Use whatever situation you have to your advantage – difficult times included.
- Stay put: This is a saying I picked up from a surfer: you can travel the world in search of the perfect wave, or you can stay right where you are and insure you get fun surf in your own backyard. There is real power in staying where you are- especially this year.
- Nurture your body: Did you know the great pianist Yuja Wang can do handstands? Whatever it is you want to create, your physical body will do a better job if you’re in better shape, right? (I know you know this one!)
- Hang with your heroes: We can’t always meet our heroes, but we can always read, follow, or watch our heroes. Even better though: play great compositions – not just listen to them, look for live interviews or podcast where you can hear an artist’s actual words – not the words of a critic or journalist. You can paint others paintings or read others plays or poetry out loud. The idea is to learn directly from the artist. Books, articles, teachings that are commentary are not as illuminating as what comes from the artist themselves.
- Notate it! The eternal human fantasy is that we will not forget that great idea, but just in case, be sure to find a way to notate that idea: Post Its, Voice Notes, recording, music notation, or doodling. Unless you’re Paul McCartney waking up with “Yesterday” direct from your dream, you need a way to remind yourself later on in your busy day.
- Enjoy what you enjoy. This might be the simplest idea, but if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing it’s hard to stick with it. Can you hack a better approach to make it more fun? My friend is a fantastic painter but is very hard on herself while she paints, so she will listen to Audibles or watch a rom-com on her computer while she paints, arousing her pleasure senses and gently drowning out critical doubts of her painting skills in the process. Find a way to enjoy the parts you enjoy and in the process you will be nurturing and cultivating your creativity – with a smile on your face too!