Care and Feeding of Your Creative Mind


One of the myths that a lot of non-musician types tend to think about people who write music (or create most any kind of art) is that these people are struck by lightning bolts of creative inspiration out of the clouds and handed their new ideas as a flash of inspiration all at once, as if creative people are like Moses and are able to hear God talking directly to them, writing it all down on a stone tablet or something. While there are times when some songs are written like this (Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is one example), it is not that common for most people on a regular basis, and certainly not for me. You can’t count on those lightning bolts of creative ideas, in full detail, dropping into your lap from out of the heavens on a regular basis. In my experience, the creative mind is actually kind of quiet, shy, soft-spoken, and lazy if left alone.   It takes a certain amount of nurturing and old-fashioned hard work to make full use of your fountain of creativity from this part of your brain.   I also know that everyone has a creative mind, whether or not they take full advantage of it.  But not everyone tries to tap into it on a day-to-day basis, and it’s under-utilized for a lot of people.  Songwriters, painters, authors, poets, and even software developers are some of the people who are more accustomed to working with this part of their mind (what some people refer to as the right brain) and try to tap into it more often.  If you’ve ever made up a joke, on the spot, and wondered where your “quick wit” came from, it came from this same place in your brain that all other creativity comes from – I like to call it “creative mind”.

You have to treat creative mind, as if it is a separate person living inside your subconscious that you can’t speak with directly. It can’t be summoned at will, so don’t even try. But you can encourage him to get out of bed, and get his lazy ass to work, and prepare yourself to listen for his ideas when he finally decides to speak to you at whisper-volume (this is the way he speaks most of the time, he doesn’t usually talk loudly, so you’d better be listening for him as he will often go back to sleep just after he has explained his latest/greatest idea to you).

In other words, you have to nurture your creative mind and be ready to listen and act on your creative impulses from this entity when it talks to you.  The more you can get out of the way of this creative flow, the better.

Here are the ways that help me to nurture the creative mind:

  • Give creative-mind some homework assignments

This is probably where that phrase “I work well under pressure” came from. When I give myself assignments to create things, it almost always produces results that I would never get if I sat around and waited to be inspired. Tell yourself to write a new song and be specific about what you want: “I want to write a theme song for a movie about a guy that is stranded in the Arizona desert”  It doesn’t matter if nobody is really asking you for such an assignment. Your creative mind doesn’t know or care. It only knows that you’re starting something to work on. Just pretend that you have been hired to write a song for some purpose and start forcing yourself to create stuff.