It is recommended that you treat this workbook like you would treat a medication that you have been prescribed to take daily: it is to be digested every day at a chosen time (i.e. first thing in the morning), some take it with food, or others take it as sparingly as possible and only in times of discomfort and need. Some creative cases could require multiple doses per day, so prescribe as needed! This workbook will not be for everybody, as nothing in life is a right fit for all. It is suggested that you try 21 of these daily meds for 21 days in a row – if you find that you are not connecting or are not understanding on any level than this workbook may not be for you. Try placing in a safe place or storage box for the future, as your future self may find great benefit from it in another stage of your life. These meds have no expiry date; in fact, it may do more for you as you age with it and continue to use it throughout your creative practice.
I would like to gently remind you from time to time throughout your investigation of this workbook to read, process and take away these concepts with the idea of “take the good and leave the bad” in your mind. This means to try your best to NOT over judge the concepts that do not resonate with you. Some of the items in this workbook are going to result in huge light bulbs of revolutionary thought and some are going to make you cringe and want to throw out this book! My purpose is to introduce a plethora of pathways to open up your understanding of your creativity and your creative life.
This workbook is 155 daily exercises to learn how and why you create the way you create. The workbook can be utilized on your own or in a group setting, and with or without an experienced instructor. One goal of this workbook is to learn the way you judge and process emotions: the emotions connected with the sounds you create, what your emotional purpose in your creations are, and identifying your physical reactions to the emotional nature in music. This workbook is meant to push you and your boundaries to the point where you can identify the beautiful and the ugly in your character. After all, being creative is not always candy canes and unicorns and sometimes it can be like swimming in the sewer. Learning about oneself and how to harness the positive and negative character traits in our creations will ultimately serve you to your benefit and help you come closer to your creative goals.
There are many ways to work through these daily exercises and I will leave it up to you in how you wish to go through it. I suggest to make it as fun as you can because some of these lessons are going to be hard to look at, process, and face truthfully. Keep in mind that you should not take it too seriously because you are going to hate this book at times as well as love it. You are going to be painfully bored at times and want endlessly more at others. There are a wide variety of exercises with a broad array of emotional content and it is up to you to determine if it is a fun experience or a lame one. It will be up to your level of dedication to put into it what you wish to achieve out of it. Here are a few suggested ways to help you get started:
- Start from page one and go to the end, reading one page a day.
- Start from the end and read to page one.
- Read only one or two of the four sections every day.
- Skip around and randomly pick a page and section.
- Work only with the creative experiment sections for thirty-one days.
- Read the daily dose and daily action sections every other day for a year.
- Don’t read it at all and throw this workbook away.
- Read a new section every hour, at the same minute marker of each hour.
- Read a new creative word section every ten minutes until you find a solution to your creative problem.
- Go through this workbook with a group of people and discuss it together.
- Read and practice these for the rest of your life.
- Borrow these ideas and make your own.
- Help another musician by walking them through this workbook and passing on what you have learned from it.
No matter how you choose to go through this workbook remember that there is no wrong way to participate with it. The more you work, the more you’re going to learn about yourself, and in turn, the more you will grow. This workbook will introduce a new concept of yourself everyday and there is no ‘right way’ to learn and exercise growth, just like there is no ‘right way’ to create. You either are creating or you are not. Either is right or wrong because one leads to the other and the cycle continues endlessly. It’s a real head twist! Keep in mind that everything in this workbook is a suggestion and not a requirement. Requirements imply absolutes and the core principle of this workbook are not based in black and white absolutes. There is a lot of grey area in creativity. Everything is valid in the judgment of a right or a wrong: it’s up to decide if the avenue you choose to go down is the right or wrong one. Once you are comfortable with the workbook, feel free to create your own versions or alter the different sections to fit your needs.
Should you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and cannot brake into a creative flow I suggest a technique I use daily that is a core exercise to help jump start my creativity: I do not set up and tackle too much to do at once. Tell yourself ‘I will only work for 5 minutes’, and apply this to the smallest task that needs to get done in front of you. I have found over the years that once I start the process of action, the action takes hold and I cannot stop. Take a break after every applied 5-minute exercise if you are not finding your work zone and repeat this 5-minute process until your creative flow takes hold. Learning what your creative flow looks and feels like is a huge part of breaking out of creative ruts. Using the different sections in this workbook is a great way to start to understand what your creative flow looks and feels like. You can practice the 5-minute technique in all the exercises in this workbook to help you start the discovery process.
Here is a breakdown of the four different sections on any given pages in this workbook. The Creative Word and Creative Experiment sections deal with creativity and physical exercises around your flow of creativity. The Daily Dose and Daily Action sections address the emotional and spiritual aspects within our creative behavior in and around our physical musical lives. If you are having trouble pinpointing the core principle within a section, have a look at the daily dose titles in the table of contents to help guide you in the discovery of the message.
1. Mental – Creative Word
The creative word section is based on a John Cage experiment that I learned through Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies. They are based on the characters of the I Ching and are to be used when you are overwhelmed with choices and arrive at a creative crossroad. Being creatively stumped is different than being creatively blocked and these single words are there to open up pathways that you might be overlooking or are too close to see. The creative word is there to exercise your mental ability to think around creative issues. One way I use this section is I write on my hand every morning the creative word of the day and refer to it through the day whenever I am looking for an answer to something.
2. Physical – Creative Experiment
The Creative Experiments are creative block exercises and are to be read when one is feeling a wall and when no creative process is naturally occurring. There are basic instructions to follow to allow your brain to shut off and take basic physical action. Action is a type of prescription when you are feeling lost in what to do next. Taking these simple actions will help start the creative engine in getting the juices flowing. Over time you will learn and teach yourself how to naturally applied these techniques to guide your creative openness.
3. Emotional – Daily Dose
The Daily Dose section introduces emotional principles and traits that you might not be aware of in your creative life. It discusses possible scenarios that you might encounter within your musical career and artistic life. This is the core section of this workbook and is fundamentally rooted in the process of growth. The section is based around about how we feel, our reactions to our feelings, and how it affects our creative lives. Becoming aware is the most important lesson the section has to offer. It is my hope that after your participation with this section that you will become more conscious of the root causes behind your actions, and in turn, become more aware of optimizing your flow of creativity in your life. This section is a difficult one and designed to crack you open and look at the purest form of you, with the idea of learning how you emotionally operate. It is suggested to meditate and think about the message being articulated after reading the section. You can start off with a timer set for 2 minutes and grow from there.
4. Spiritual – Daily Action
The Daily Action section is derived from the daily dose section and outlines a newly discovered creative principle. This section introduces character traits in the creative process and recommends a suggested action behind the principle being taught. Keeping in mind the definition of ‘spiritual’ is synonymous with creation and the definition of creation is action. Without action we cannot create and without creation we cannot participate in a spiritual life. After all, our spiritual life is our creative life and how we conduct ourselves in creating is the fundamental essence of our moral spiritual beliefs. This section has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with learning about our core beliefs. This section is to be read, thought about, and then put into action. Thinking about how the topic relates to you and how you can use (or not use) the principles being explained and then applying the actions required to achieving a new peak of self-awareness in one’s creativity.