I’m the type of person who wants to do a lot of creative projects, so many in fact, that the vast majority never get done. A lot of times I just don’t know where to start, so I don’t. What I’m learning again and again is that you need to be decisive to be creative. Creating involves making a choice, and if we find ourselves unable to choose, we’re unable to create.
In my Music Promotion class, we were given a video assignment. We had to make weekly videos, three to five minutes long, based on a prompt. The prompts were short and open for interpretation. I was excited to make some videos, but wasn’t quite sure where to begin.
If this had been a self-imposed project – like writing a song – I would have procrastinated and taken a lot of time to get the “best idea.” Since this was for class, I had a deadline. It forced me to make a decision and run with it. It wasn’t so important what I chose, so long as I chose. This resulted in me actually finishing projects in a timely manner. As the saying goes, “Done is better than perfect.”
One of the best parts about music school is having assignments that push you to create. Being graded is a great incentive, and you’re left with a product you’re happy you made. Unfortunately, we don’t have similar incentives for projects outside of school, so we’re left to our own devices.
I wrote before that I have a lot of ideas, but it’s easy to have a lot of ideas and do nothing. It’s the easiest thing in the world. You get a false sense of satisfaction, thinking of all the great things you will do – someday. In his book Anything You Want, Derek Sivers writes “To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed.” I have more unfinished songs than I can count, but when I do finish one, it’s always a win. Whether or not the song is good is less important than the fact that I’m finishing songs. It’s practice for creative decision making.
This is something I’m still working on, but if you want to write more songs, pick one tune and finish it. It doesn’t matter which one, what genre, or whatever. Make a decision, then it’s easy.