If your car breaks down you go to a mechanic. If your body breaks down you go to a doctor. If your creativity breaks down you go to… Ehm… Yeah. You don’t.
What we need is some sort of feedback loop. Some way of picking it apart and analyzing what the problem is.
If we can do it by ourselves it’s great, but if we can do it together it can be even greater!
You can create something really quick just to try it out. This doesn’t have to be a big project, just get the principals down. In this case we’ll use a song as an example.
1. Write a song. Brainstorm. Just get everything out.
2. Start looking at it critically. What works, what doesn’t? The lyrics? The chords? The rhythm/tempo? The melody? Is it a certain part? Intro , verse, pre-chorus, chorus, mid-8?
3. Isolate the things that don’t work. Why don’t they work? Is it vague? Preachy? Wordy? Not wordy enough? Complaining? Rushed? Slow? Hard? Soft?
4. Get outside input and/or do some research on the topic that isn’t working.
5. Go back into creative mode. Come up with new ideas.
6. Repeat steps 2-5 until it gets to about 80% finished.
7. Put it out there.
These are just the basic things that we all need to do. There’s a lot more we can do within each of these parts!
Some things that can get in the way:
1. Bringing the analytical thought into the creative process. Big no-no!
2. Thinking that the problems are in the core so we’ll have to start over. We have to go through the WHOLE process, otherwise we’re just starting and stopping midway just to start again.
3. Getting caught in one mode too long. Either just creating or analyzing. Set a limit of 90 minutes for each.
4. Using research or outside feedback as an excuse not to continue the process. “I need more info before I can go on!”. Set a limit for 90 minutes. A maximum of 3 people for feedback. Over the course of a day at the most, No “I’ll wait until he’s back next wednesday because I value his opinion so much”!
5, Is it 80% finsihed? I know that some of us will say “Yeah, i’ve gone through the process 6 times but it’s still at 75%!”. Then it’s time to stop. Let it go. Put it out there as finished.
So an effective way is to either do it during one day or over 3 days.
One day: Write the song, break, go over the issues, break, do some research, break, rewrite, put it out there, go to sleep.
If you want to go through the 3-day version, here it is!
Day 1: Write the song, break, go over the issues, break, do some research, go to sleep.
Day 2: Rewrite, break, go over the issues, break, do some research, go to sleep.
Day 3: Final rewrite, put it out there, go to sleep.
I’ve noticed that breaks are crucial to let things settle down. They shouldn’t be too short (less than 30 minutes) or too long (more than 4 hours). This is because we need time to readjust our minds between the different patterns of thought. But if too much time passes then it’s hard for us to assimilate what we’ve picked up into our minds and long term memory. Our minds become cluttered with other things.
The only time we shouldn’t rest is between the final rewrite and getting it out there. If we give ourselves even 5 minutes of just enjoying that we’ve “finished” it that little voice will turn on: “You know, in verse 2 there’s this little…” aaaand…
Put on some quotes!
“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” – Napoleon Hill
“I would never finish a painting if I didn’t have a deadline.” – Peter Doig
“The ultimate inspiration is the deadline.” – Nolan Bushnell