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Lesson from Jack White: Creativity by restriction

Jack White on creativity

Telling yourself, “Oh, you have all the time in the world, you have all the money in the world, you have all the colors in the palette you want, anything you want,” I mean, that just kills creativity. Jack White

So what you do when you don’t feel like writing? When you feel no inspiration to create some good music? Are you going to play mindlessly all those outdated licks? Or do you have a better strategy?

Creativity is the most essential part of any art. Creativity is what  separates artists from musicians.  I am not saying that one thing is better than the other. I am just saying that being an artist means to create. No matter what the circumstances are.

There are some times when making the art is fun, but other times it’s not — so if you want to build something sustainable, you have to find a way to keep making art during the not-so-fun times. Chris Guillebeau

Creativity is not something you find accidentally. It is something that you need to develop. It takes time and lot of patience and effort. There is no sure receipt for creativity. Everybody is unique and everybody has his own ways to be creative. What works for one, doesn’t have to work for somebody else.

The more ways you know how to be creative, the better are your chances to actually create something. This is why you need to be a lifelong learner. You need to pick up every idea that can help you become better player or better songwriter. changes situation.

You can ignite your creativity by buying a new guitar or new effect pedal. You can be more creative by adding more notes and more chords to the song. But there is also another way. You can develop you creative part by restricting yourself. How does it work?

Basically what you do is limit yourself. It is well known that when people have too many choices, they won’t choose anything. So instead of letting yourself use all the knowledge and all the gear you have, you make some boundaries. Try some of these tips on creativity from Jack White and let me know how it worked:

Limit your time: Push yourself to create something in 30 minutes.

Force yourself, book only four, five days in the studio and force yourself to record an album in that time. Deadlines make you creative. Jack White

Even though you have whole afternoon to create a new song, try to create it in 30 minutes. Prakinson’s law states: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. And I think this is especially true for creative work.

Use your time wisely. Don’t just noodle around and play whatever comes to your mind. Sometimes it is better to force yourself to create something. Maybe you won’t come up with anything, but maybe you can create a great song. Or maybe you will connect some older ideas together and create another Stairway to heaven.

Limit your notes choice: Create something within one box

I am tired of trying to come up with things in this box, but I force myself to do it because I know something good can come out of it, if I really work inside of it. Inspiration and work ethic they ride right next to each other. Not every day of your life you’re gonna wake up and the clouds are gonna part and rays from heaven are gonna come down and you’re gonna write a song from it. Sometimes, you just get in there and just force yourself to work, and maybe something good will come out. Jack White

Sometimes playing all over the guitar neck won’t bring the results that you strive for. Trying to come up with something using just one box can boost your creativity.

Limit your gear: Take the worst guitar you have and create something

I am using same guitars on stage that I used 10 years ago. Jack White

No you don’t need another guitar. You’ve heard it before. One guitar is enough. In fact you can come up with some pretty interesting stuff if you cut 2 strings off your guitar (you decide which ones :-)) Don’t let a lack of resources hinder your creativity. Create with what you have.

Limit the things you work on: Force yourself to finish things.

I like to do things to make it really hard on myself. Jack White

Sometimes there are so many things that you would like to try that you just don’t know where to start. You do one thing for a while and then you switch to another one. At the end of the day everything is just half finished.

You can try another approach instead. Pick one thing and stick with it. Try to finish it if possible. Finish that song that you write for ages already. Finish it and move on. By doing this your mind will be much calmer and you will be more focused. Try it and see for yourself.

Image courtesy: eliztesch

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2 Responses to Lesson from Jack White: Creativity by restriction

  1. Bobo August 1, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    you´re so right.
    This sunday I decided to write lyrics for a new song a pushed my self to finish it in this one day. I made it and felt so satisfied … Otherwised I would write half of it and finish in another month or two!

    • Lukas August 1, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

      Exactly. Sometimes pushing yourself to do stuff that matters to you is the best thing that you can do. Thanks for comment!

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