The cost of creativity

In his compact little book “Steal Like An Artist” one of  Austin Kleon‘s secrets to unlocking your creativity is to “do good work and share it with people.” The book is full of such one-liners meant to help us find that creative thing within. Taped on the speaker box next to my monitor is Robert A. Heinlein‘s Rules for Writing, five of them, all short  and succinct like many of those in Mr. Kleon’s book. One of Heinlein’s says “you must finish what you write.” But of course before you can finish anything you need to start it, and before you can share it with anyone it has to be made shareable. There’s all kinds of info available about how to be more creative and productive, but what seems to be missing from all of it is instructions on how to get motivated.

Motivation comes when your brain tells your feet, hands, and the rest of your body what to do next. But unless your brain sees something that motivates it, you probably won’t be energized to do much. My problem, and perhaps yours too, is that we’ve seen just about everything there is to see. There’s also the problem of how our brains interpret the stuff it sees. Mine catches sight of a beautiful old acoustic Martin guitar and I’m almost immediately motivated to go buy one. But there’s one problem with this that instantly de-motivates: I can’t afford to buy a vintage Martin guitar. At least not instantly. I have to save for it. It’s quite appropriate that Mr. Kleon mentions staying out of debt, which hints at a certain cost of creativity.

I still play an old Sigma acoustic guitar that I bought in 1973. It’s had one major reconstructive surgery, an electric pickup installed, and some minor underside bridge work. Much like me, that old Sigma is showing signs of age. And although the cost of some of its creativity might be measured in dollars and cents, the heart and soul of it still comes from the one who plays it – me.

My old guitar
My old guitar
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