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Successful Creativity

Creativity is often thought of as a mysterious process. How do you create something from nothing? And how do you make that process fun?

The fun often appears when you take out your box of “what I know” and assemble the pieces in a different order.

It works like this: pretend you have a bag of magic jigsaw puzzle pieces, and when you place the pieces on a table in front of you, they automatically form a picture. Put them back in the bag, pull them out again and they automatically form a different picture.

This is not too different from what can really happen.

As a composer, I have a grab-bag of puzzle pieces:

I can assemble them by habit, and it will always produce a picture. But that picture is a result of a formula, a recipe I’ve followed in the past. And though it will give me results, it’s still based on a past recipe.

Creative magic happens when you surprise yourself. When you take off into the unknown. When you say: “I’m not sure what I’ll get if I combine the puzzle pieces in a different way than ever before.” When you take a chance.

Do you always start with lyrics? Instead, try starting with chords. Or a melody. Do you like only certain styles? Try one you’ve never used before. Do you play keyboards? Imagine you’re writing as if you are a guitar player.

I have a graphic designer friend who has over 20 years experience in his field. One day I watched him choose a font – for two hours!

Curious, I said: “Do you do that kind of thing for all your projects?” I thought that after 20 years he would be familiar enough with fonts to immediately know which ones would work.

My friend replied: “I put up a font on my computer screen, try it out with different headings and body text. I play with it to see what it feels like. Then I try another one. And I keep trying different ones till I find the exact one I need.”

My friend’s formula for creativity was – don’t have a formula.

That’s when you ignite your creative spark. Or rather, when the creative spark ignites you! When the puzzle pieces come together to form a picture that surprises you. When you look at the finished puzzle and say: “Wow! I didn’t know I could do that!”


LNLAA (Oops! Better re-arrange the pieces)
BellaOnline’s Musician Editor

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