Tag Archives: Creativity

The Spark: Insights into Creativity

David Crosby has never been known as a prolific songwriter, especially compared to his band mates (in The Byrds and CSNY). And what songs he has written have, as with many works of art, come from turmoil. It seems he believed in the old adage: an artist must suffer to create. But now Crosby is 75 years old. Time is running out, and he’s hit the most creative years of his life. In his song, “By the Light of Common Day” (working title “The Muse”), he gives insight earned by long experience into the creative process: that those hard times he had–the early loss of his girlfriend, the drug years, prison–weren’t necessary. He didn’t need “to make it rough,” as he says in the song. The muse doesn’t need that; it just needs us to listen.

By the Light of Common Day (Lyrics by David Crosby, music by Becca Stevens)

By the light of common day
Things look different
Than they did in the starlit dark

The dark was warm and clouded
It was easy to deceive yourself
And those around you in the work

To say the craziness and pain
The spreading of the stain is
Exactly where you gain the spark to make it
As if being happy isn’t quite enough
Somehow I needed to make it rough
Rough enough to break it

To make those long connections
And run in wrong directions
Till I break it loose

I was wrong of course I see now
The spark is there all the time now
If you know how to listen to your calling
The muse is quietly knocking on your door now

To say the craziness and pain
The spreading of the stain is
Exactly where you gain the spark to make it
As if being happy isn’t quite enough

Somehow I needed to make it rough
Rough enough to break it
Rough enough to break it

You have to go faithfully each day
And open up your head some way
Somehow

And what will come in answer
Some strong and gentle dancer
Will carry a song through your door
Some great lifting force of light
Will come to balance fearful night
And raise its voice and then raise yours
Raise its voice and then raise yours

 

 

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Brain Pickings: A Warehouse for the Creative Mind

In my internet wanderings, I came across the website Brain Pickings, operated by Brooklynite Maria Popova, a self-described “hunter-gatherer and curious mind at large.”  She writes for Wired UK and The Atlantic, and she’s created a wonderful warehouse for those interested in creativity.

For instance, I came across her article “The Daily Routines of Famous Writers.”  I’ve read these kinds of things before.  Still, I found it interesting because of the writers chosen.  For example, Jack Kerouac’s description of his writing ritual:

I had a ritual once of lighting a candle and writing by its light and blowing it out when I was done for the night … also kneeling and praying before starting (I got that from a French movie about George Frideric Handel) … but now I simply hate to write.

Fortunately, Brain Pickings offers much more than this.  There’s a variety of articles on creativity–e.g., “Joan Didion on Keeping a Notebook,” “How to Build a Universe: Philip K. Dick on Reality, Media Manipulation, and Human Heroism,” and “Fail Safe: Debbie Millman’s Advice on Courage and the Creative Life.”

There’s also a variety of articles from such writers as Carl Sagan, Albert Einstein, and Malcolm Gladwell.

What really grabbed me were the recordings of the writers.  There are some standards that are easy enough to find, such as Sylvia Plath and Billy Collins.  But there were a few that I was amazed at.  Ever wondered what James Joyce sounded like?  F. Scott Fitzgerald, Leo Tolstoy, Walt Whitman!  It’s here.  And so much more.