Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Create a Unique Inspiration Pool That Nobody Can Replicate

Our greatest currency in this world is our originality.

And yet, it’s also our greatest burden.

Because the interminable pressure to create and produce and constantly crank out new material, day after day, without being derivative or repetitive or stale, can overwhelm even the most prolific creator.

That’s why we need a system.

And we’ve already explored the metacognitive level, through the power of awareness plans as a plugin for the human operating system. We’ve already examined the ritualistic level, by identifying a repertoire of faithful forces to keep the creative life constant. The next step is to consider the recreational level, by creating a unique inspiration pool that nobody can replicate.

Tom Waits has a few things to say about this.

In my opinion, he is the most original songwriter of his generation. For more than thirty years, he’s won over millions of fans around the world with distinctive and mysterious songs that he refers to as "Halloween music, murder ballads, field hollers, cautionary tales and parlor jingles.”

In a famous interview about his creative process, Tom told the story about an oil stain he once saw on the drapes of his childhood home. He described it as a wink from somebody who was living inside drapes, and how that experience activated his imagination, letting him know that there was life on the other side of the veil.

“I’ve been looking at stains ever since I was seven, waiting for a message,” he said.

Tom also talked about his habit of turning on two radios at once, because he liked hearing things wrong. He would also take a tape recorder, put it in the trashcan with wheels, turn it on, roll around in the yard with it, and then play it back and see if he could hear any interesting rhythms.

Strange guy, huh?

And yet, he was recently inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame.

The only place where cover bands aren’t allowed.

Proving, that sustained artistic originality is possible. Even if we’re not as eccentric and talented and successful as Tom may be, the flow of ideas doesn’t have to stop. We simply need to view our eclectic pursuits as rich areas to mine.

I remember when I first started practicing hot yoga.

Within weeks of taking my first class, dozens of new ideas, thoughts, language, metaphors, examples, inspirations, influences and textures, that I never would have come across elsewhere, started pouring out me. Which is interesting, considering how much sweat literally pours out of my body during class.

But once yoga became a staple in my recreational life, the level of originality in my writing skyrocketed to new levels. It’s like someone unlocked a valve, I took trip to another land and my feet have never returned to the ground.

You really can’t spell recreation without creation.

Proving, that it’s not enough to write things worth talking about, we have to live things worth writing about.

Life is subordinate to our art, not the other way around. Our first responsibility as creators is to be human beings, to be real people, with unique inspiration pools that nobody can replicate.

The adventurous part is, the whole world is your rhetorical toolbox. Everything goes into the hopper and enables you. Everything around you is a point of connection with crossover usefulness. Everything is just one ingredient in a big, boiling pile of inputs.

As songwriter Jolie Holland once said, “It’s like you walk around eating poetry and then you throw up a song at the end.”

Because wherever you look, there's something to see.

If we can learn to create from there, from that place of humanity, the pressure of sustaining artistic originality won’t be the burden it used to be.