Seven Deadlies

This was a long but sensational week for me.  I taught music at an all-girl rock camp up in Madison, Wisconsin.  It’s my fifth year doing it, and I love it as much as ever.  The girls come to camp on Monday, form a band, and start learning a new instrument.  By the end of the week, they will have a written an original song, recorded it in a professional recording studio, and performed it for their friends and families at The Loft at The Goodman Center.  To see their creativity grow over the course of the week is so inspiring. 

This year, my group of kiddos started out timid. (As in, there were several minutes where they literally stared at their shoes.)  The idea of writing a song together seemed to petrify them.  It wasn’t until Wednesday that they finally were able to trust themselves and write a really incredible song. 

Watching this slow creative process unfold in children is fascinating.  As an outsider, I could observe them encountering the same internal roadblocks that I face as a songwriter.  

Except I could see those creative roadblocks very, very clearly. 

And so I thought I’d use this week’s blog to write out what I’ve recently observed to be the 7 Deadly Creativity Killers, just in case they serve as a reminder to you, my dear Reader, and to me as well. 

1)   Thou shalt not fear mistakes.  There are no mistakes when creating the new thing. 

2)   Thou shalt not care how others perceive you.  To place stock in the opinions of others is to lose stock in yourself. 

3)   Thou shalt not judge what brings you joy. If the thing lights you up, pour yourself into it.  

4)   Thou shalt not critique yourself mid-process.  Finish the thing first, tear it apart later; it’s not wise to cut down something that was never allowed to live in the first place. 

5)   Thou shalt not create while bored. Eat something. Drink a little water.  Maybe take a nap.  Then try again. 

6)   Thou shalt not seek compliments.  If you can’t feel good about the thing without someone telling you it’s good, you need to rethink why you’re doing the thing in the first place. 

7)   Thou shalt not work with great hardship.  If it’s painfully hard to make the thing, then maybe that thing doesn’t need to get made. 

It seems like these words could be applied to making just about anything, from fine art to dinner.  In any case, I’ll certainly be watching that I don’t commit any of these suckers when I sit down to write my next song. 

Reader, I’ve got a lot of shows this week, and I hope you can make one!  If not, I’ll see you right back here in Blogsville next Sunday.  -Em

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