This is an excerpt of the book Processing Creativity: The Tools, Practices And Habits Used To Make Music You’re Happy With. If you would like to download an excerpt or buy a copy you can do so here.
The idea that creativity should come easily to those who go on to do great things discourages many would-be creators from pursuing their endeavors since they don't immediately have the attention span or the skills to create great work. This thought neglects the fact that many of the skills you need to be highly creative take an immense amount of practice. Much like exercise or weight training, creative skills need to be used regularly and built upon continuously to be able to be used proficiently. Nearly every part of creativity takes practice that eventually gets you in shape to create easily and effectively.
Time - When I first started working in a recording studio, doing a six-hour session felt like an eternity. Within a year I could do a fourteen-hour day with no problem; fifteen years later, sustaining an eighteen-hour day isn’t hard for me as long as I don’t do too many in a row. Expecting to jump into ten-hour days in the studio without losing your attention span or getting exhausted is unrealistic. Most of us need to build up a stamina for long days of creation.
Arrangements - Most musicians start out learning simple three-chord pop songs building up to the ability to remember long, complex melodies. To get good at complex arrangements, you need to first learn the basics. Don't expect "Bohemian Rhapsody" to come out of you before you've learned "Basket Case."
Commitment - Committing to decisions is a practice that takes time. At first, musicians are uneasy about commitment in case they need to revisit an element of a song. In time, as you become confident the decisions you make are right, it becomes progressively easier to commit.
Ego Depletion - This unfortunately named term is the idea that every time you navigate through a creative crossroad throughout your day, you get more exhausted. Dr. Roy Baumeister discovered this in a study where he stated, "your finite willpower becomes depleted with each decision you have to make and each unfamiliar interaction you have to have." This relates to creativity in that every person only has so many decisions they can make without taking a break before they make poor decisions or give up on making good decisions.
Building up your resistance to ego depletion not only takes time by going through the creative practice, but it also takes strategy. By committing to production choices and utilizing templates, you spend less time making decisions, which frees your brain to sustain its creative fuel. Many "life hackers" take this to the extreme, where they'll have the same breakfast every day to save their brains for making more pressing decisions. While this example is excessive, the practice of ridding your life of pensive decisions before creating can help you use your creative power as effectively as possible. Making decisions during pre-production instead of long studio days can make the process of deep reconsideration in the studio more effective.
This is an excerpt of the book Processing Creativity: The Tools, Practices And Habits Used To Make Music You’re Happy With. If you would like to download an excerpt or buy a copy you can do so here