“Don’t wait for inspiration-just start”

I met a friend for drinks last night and invariably the conversation turned to the creative process and what that entails.  I was fortunate to have as a mentor a very experienced arranger/musician. His name was Billy Byers. I was 17 years old and green to the gills. I trusted him implicitly an made myself available to help in whatever capacity in return.

Most all of us at some point have experienced the same anxiety over: “How do I begin?”

Let me share a few pearls of wisdom Billy imparted to me:

“Don’t wait for inspiration-just start”

“If you sit there long enough it will get finished”

“It only takes a little longer to do it right”

The lesson?

Creativity-IMHO- comes from training yourself to concentrate your focus and attention on the task at hand. If you let your mind wander-(what’s in the fridge?, I didn’t take out the garbage, what is so and so doing,etc, etc,) it is impossible to come up with any ideas because you are thinking of something else. “Don’t wait for inspiration just start”. This is not a game of perfect…it’s about volume. It’s about trial and error, revisions, and taking risks to increase your knowledge and experience.The only way you can be objective about your work is to physically get it out of your body…take a break…and then, go back to it with fresh eyes and mind and see what you think.

There was only one Mozart…everyone second guesses their choices when creating something. I would like to think that he went through the editing process in his head BEFORE he ever put pen to paper. And even he made revisions later in his life.

The second part of this idea is that you MUST become an objective critic of your own work. It’s the only way you will grow and actually get better.

So, the deal is this- put your ideas out there, get to the end, step away, be objective about it and either change or leave it alone.

No matter what your endeavor-music, art, photography, mashing, writing, coding-whatever, the art of inspiration is the same as practicing your instrument. No real mystery here…just hard work.

The only way to get better is to just do it, often, with as much passion and disciplined, focused attention as you can muster.

More on the other quotes soon.

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2 comments

  1. soundtrackgeek

    Creativity comes and goes. I just hope to be there when it hits me. Any tip on how to let things go? I am a perfectionist and usually stops or give up before I finish something because I don’t think it’s good enough to meet my (probably unrealistic standards).

    • chrisboardman

      sometimes it is better just to get to the end and then make a judgment about good or bad. Being a perfectionist is not necessarily a bad thing.
      Ask yourself-“is this the best I can do at the time” if the answer is yes…letting go should be easier.

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