Speech Tip: Creative Work
As you write, be creative. And be ready to sweat. Don’t romanticize creativity. It is hard work. It is looking in places others don’t look. It is struggling to see if there are connections others have missed. It is trying things which more than likely will fail hoping for the one time it will succeed.
Creatives are drawn to life this for a myriad of reasons. True creation isn’t one of them. The creating is done. The work we call creativity is merely connecting that which already exists. It is a skill, perhaps, of observation, that is our strength.
As Steve Jobs said:
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”
I know this. I can’t always explain how it happened. I voraciously, curiously consume ideas. I explore well outside of familiar genres. I jump deeply into new ideas. Even things I disagree with, I learn about, trying to understand why others agree.
Finding My Inner Jimi
I recently started guitar lessons. Acoustic. I’m only a few lessons in and a long way from being able to say I can play. I’ve always loved old blues (see my brief review of an album by Robert Johnson – King Of The Delta Blues Singers), as well as folk and classic rock. Why not? I wished I learned when I was young enough to be a rock star (because, of course, I would), but I decided to give it a shot.
I tell people I’m looking for my inner Jimi. Jimi Hendrix was among the greatest guitarists — a blues man turned rocker. Or my inner Phil, for Phil Keaggy. He’s a relative unknown master of guitar who plays mostly in Christian music circles. Less famous than Jimi but an artist just the same.
I have no delusion I’ll be better, though, than Ringo Starr. Ringo, as you know, is a drummer, not a guitarist. I’m hoping to be able, in a year’s time, to play a few basic songs.
My goal is to enjoy my own playing, to delve into an area creatively not usually part of my life. I expect it will spark into a new flame in my preferred medium as well. I’m a writer. I know a little about the visual arts. Music, though, is new to me as a practitioner. Untapped as it is, I expect good things as I grow holistically as an artist.
Learning is hard. My guitar teacher at Town Center Music, Greg Shivers, has been there (see him play Prelude from Suite 1 by Johann Sebastian Bach) and is patiently showing me what he now knows intuitively. For me, it is hard work. I know what he’s teaching me is completely basic, but I don’t yet have the muscle memory for the simplest of scales.
Greg is a master of his craft and aims to bring to my level what he learned 20 years earlier. He put the time in. He has the callouses to back it up.
I’m not an easy student; this doesn’t come naturally to me. Am I discouraged? Not in those words. I want to be farther along and I underestimated how challenging even the start of things would be. I am resolved to put in the work.
Writing, at least at the first draft stage, is intuitive to me. I have many years of reading great writing and just as many trying to do likewise. I know there is to some a romantic impression of the life of a writer. No, I’ve never hopped on a client’s yacht to help him hammer out remarks to an address he’s giving at a Pacific island resort (if you have such a yacht and are a client, I am open this weekend). I spend much of my time in my personal library listening to TedTalks through headphones, or talking with clients who need to update stockholders.
Writers write. And research. And edit. And revise. And start over again. And again. We stay up late fixing drafts. We read books and articles helping us do it better.
And so should you, fellow creative.