02009-09-22 | Uncategorized | 8 comments

Here is the question:

You are a prolific composer (At least it seems that way to me). Do you believe that it is the case that being creative makes a person more so? Or, is a person just intrinsically creative? i.e., Is creativity like a muscle that grows stronger if used, or is it something that one just has like synthesia?

Do you get “writers block?” How do you escape it?, or do you embrace it?

And here is my answer:

Creativity is, in part, a muscle that needs to be engaged and toned. A photographer sees shapes and is aware of the light 24/7 or s/he is not a photographer. A musician hears sounds and rhythms 24/7 or s/he is not a musician. I imagine a writer hears dialog everywhere s/he goes. If you want to be a painter, start looking. You want to be a musician, start hearing.

I think one part of creativity is associative power, the ability to create mental links between ideas and sensory input, thought and reality. Cross-linking what we experience with how we feel and how we view the world. A personal network of external and internal information.

The best ideas have been described at happy accidents, neurons jumping track and colliding with other, seemingly unrelated neurons waiting on another track. A microscopic game of boules. I think that can be trained. (((and I do believe that the odds are improved in people who speak more than one language as they look at the world in a less fixed way)))

You describe nature versus nurture and I have always thought that both are equally important. Talent is not everything! There are people who are supremely talented (((scale is weighted on the nature-side))), who don’t know how to hustle and practice and work (((nurture))). We need both in order to create, talent and practice! And, the more we do something, the better we become at doing that – true for everything we do, isn’t it?

Jon and I recently talked about nature versus nurture in terms of the brain and aging. One person’s body seems old at 45 and another appears fit at 75. The same is true for minds. One person thinks old at 45 and another thinks young at 75. It seems that aging is a combination of genetic pre-disposition (((nature))) AND how we use our brain (((nurture))). Use it or lose it.

I think most every child is naturally creative, but schools seem to be trying hard to ruin them as quickly as possible, but that’s another subject.

Yes, I have had writer’s block. I have been scared of never writing another piece of music. And then, as soon as I forgot that I thought that – I wrote another song. I figure, I have to keep the machine in good shape by practicing and playing guitar, and eventually the music writes itself. I can’t remember HOW I wrote most of my music! It was just suddenly there. Sure, I might have been working on a particular sound-puzzle for hours, even days, but then came the moment when it became obvious what to do. Music, or so it seems, writes itself. Or at least that’s how it seems looking back.


  1. James

    Well put. I would like to add one thing: We become better at what we practice, so be aware of what you are choose to practice.

  2. James

    *you choose to practice. (((Note to self: practice more writing)))

  3. yumi

    “One person thinks old at 45 and another thinks young at 75.”

    Knowing that from 1-45, life changes.
    Knowing that from 45 – 75, life changes.
    Introducing yourself to new things or seeing new ways of doing something you did before. Just as necessary to clear away what is no longer needed, making the space to keep the outlook fresh in order to retain a deep sense of interest.

  4. Brenda

    Yes, you are a writer also!!! Wonderful writer! Just like your response to this question. You express in written form your core values and are also so very willing to also share knowledge. You teach others to value their own talents and most importantly to nuture who they are and not take their creativity for granted.

  5. steve

    I was glad to read, “A musician hears sounds and rhythms 24/7 or s/he is not a musician.”

    I used to hear a break-beat when the floppy disk in my old Mac-II computer would seek for data.

    I would hear melody in garage door squeak.

    I would sit in a coffee house and listen to the melodies and contrapuntal rhythms of people conversing.

    I hear beats and rhythms and melody throughout my day in very unlikely places and when I mention them to friends they say, “yer crazy.”


    But I can’t turn it off. It just happens. Sometimes it takes over. Then I have to write it down on manuscript paper because until I do that, it won’t leave me alone.

    Many thanks for this: Your answer was very articulate, well presented, and insightful.

  6. Carol

    I see pictures everywhere. It used to bother me. I asked my Mom if she thought I was paranoid. She was a good mom. She said it was my wonderful imagination. It is weird sometimes.

  7. Thomas Faes

    Danke Ottmar!

    Immer inspirierend bei Dir reinzuschauen. Wirklich. Auch die Glenn Gould Quote war ganz gross.

    Herzliche Grüsse aus der Schweiz.

    Auf dem Land, hier in der Ostschweiz (St.Gallen) fährt man jetzt wieder oft im Schritttempo hinter Traktoren her, da die Bauern ihre Zuckerrüben zu den Sammelstellen bringen. Die jährliche Saison der Zuckerverarbeitung nennt man, aus welchen Gründen weiss ich nicht, ‘Kampagne’.

    I write German to nurture this other ‘sight on world’ you mentioned and simply because I know you understand it.

    Blessings, Thomas

  8. Brenda

    Hello Thomas:
    Sugar Beets you said – We use Red Beets to make pickled eggs.
    I understand the speed of tractor. Nice!!! Thanks for nuturing us! :)


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