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Creativity Is Piecing Things Together
It is more a process of assembly and integration than something brand new.
“That’s how songs happen. They piece themselves together.” — Paul Simon
Is creativity a single moment of inspiration?
Or is it multiple such moments pieced together?
I recently ran across this fascinating clip from the Dick Cavett show. Paul Simon describes how the song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” came to be. I was struck by just how important influences are in the process of creation. It resonated deeply with me.
I was also struck by the patience required in creating something beautiful. Simon mentions how some songs come together fast. Others have these creative sticking points requiring further enlightenment. Still others end after a few lines.
It’s almost as if the song is being transmitted through some creative source. You may be ready to hear it in full. Or some parts of it are still obscured by a lack of understanding. Perhaps you must experience something outside the song to go any further. Or maybe the song really IS only a few lines. And that’s okay. Even a few lines can be indescribably beautiful when paired with a melody.
Cavett: “What makes you stuck?”
Simon: “Well, everywhere I went lead me to where I didn’t want to be. So I was stuck.”
Notice how outwardly calm Simon appears. I can imagine him hitting these sticking points and just switching focus to other things. In the pursuit of these other things, he experiences little epiphanies. And other times, he unblocks without even realizing the source of his inspiration.
A song like “Bridge Over Troubled Water” would never have been possible without the patience to piece things together, either consciously or subconsciously.
So be patient with your creations. Forcing them will only get you stuck hard and fast. They will piece themselves together if you stop fighting the process.
NOTE: Thanks to Matt Tillotson and his excellent Mixed Tape newsletter for inspiring me with Paul Simon’s “creative assembly.”
🤔 Food for Thought:
Getting stuck creatively can frustrating, right?
What do you do when you get stuck?
Do you keep banging away at it?
Or do you allow time for inspiration to strike?
⚙️ One Small Step:
The next time you come up against a creative wall, take a break. If that doesn’t work, switch to something else. Return occasionally to see if you can pick up the old thread. Sooner or later, inspiration will strike. Have patience... and faith.