The other day, I came across this interview with Pharrell Williams & Steve Stoute, and among the many gems they dropped during their talk, there was one that stood out for me. It is an idea that I have heard before but this was a great reminder.
At about the 35:40 mark, Pharrell starts speaking directly to the camera addressing artists in particular, saying that when you find yourself in a crappy contract situation, don’t stop making music, don’t try to hold things back. This was his reasoning:
The Universe is a Library. All we are doing is checking ideas out. We can pretend, we can be possessive, it was here before us, it will be here after us. We are just checking ideas out. And what you might have checked out on one day, might not be what you will check out on the next day. So do not not make the music. When you got a library card that works, you use that card everyday!
Many creative professionals and productivity gurus make the argument for routine, and practice. They know that unlike what most people may think, that true creative productivity doesn’t come from being held bound to whims of inspiration, but from the simple unglamorous truth of just doing the work.
Not that they discount inspiration. If you have ever felt the thrill of being caught up in the moment, then you understand that it is a special kind of intoxicating and immersive. It is the pure state of flow and excitement.
The problem is that the Muse is fickle. Today might be full of inspired ideas, and tomorrow might be completely dry. The question now becomes how to generate or access the inspired state often.
Most people would want to just hang back and wait for it to come for us. Wait for lightning to strike. So we only create when we feel like it, when it is convenient.
But true creatives understand that you must keep a routine, keep writing, keep creating, keep making. Do it on a schedule. Regularly have your nose at the grindstone. These ones understand that you can whet the ground for lightning. You can work your way into inspiration. Or at the very least sharpen the saw for when it is time to strike.
In the War of Art, Steven Pressfield writes:
This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers dont. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and do the work, we become like magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.
This is the case for creating constantly. No two days are exactly the same. The things that emerge, the ideas, and the products vary from day to day. And you never really know which one is going to take off, which one is going to stand out, which one is going to change your life.
The work is yours, the results belong to God
There is the idea that the work is yours, and the results belong to God. The one thing we do have control over is showing up. Stepping up to the plate. Showing up to the party. Being present. The privilege to do the work, the blessing of creation. And when we do that, when we engage, we are transformed in the process.
What comes out, what we get blessed with – the insight, the connection, the resonance. That belongs to the higher power, that belongs to the whim of the universe. You don’t know what is going to come out for sure, you just have to trust. And the more opportunities we allow ourselves to grasp, to create, the more gifts we stand to receive. The greater the chance that we stumble across something truly life and game changing.
More benefits of creating constantly
- It gives us the chance to practice and deepen our abilities. Every time we work and create we keep our skills alive and active. We are able to improve our technique.
- It helps us to stay warm. In steady creation, we remain immersed in our field, listening to the chords, playing with the ideas, making prototypes. We are warm, we are active, so when the breakthrough comes, we are poised to take full advantage of it. You don’t have to get ready, if you stay ready.
- We make more happy accidents. Many of the world’s breakthrough moments happen by accident. You try to create something and then stumble into something else. Like the creation of penicillin or the sticky note.
Developing a creative practice, staying ready, turning pro and being consistent increases our chances for success and real breakthroughs. It keeps us growing and evolving. It takes our work and our experience to new and exciting places.