Sunday, May 18, 2008

Trust or Bust

In "Trust or Bust," a chapter in Danny Gregory's The Creative License, he discusses Keith Jarrett and his 1975 album, The Koln Concerts, an album that Gregory calls the "best-selling solo piano album ever."

"What's extraordinary," writes Gegory, "was that the music on the album is purely improvised."

If you want to learn to improvise, to reach that place where you are totally immersed in the present moment, Gregory suggests you have to learn how to "quiet down, clear the crap, and trust."

"When Jarrett improvises" writes Gregory, "he allows the performance to be a distillation of who he is and what he knows. He says you have to assume that what you are doing is meaningless, to be willing to toss it away. You can't think that what you are making will be recorded, sold, reviewed, even listened to. Just do it and see what happens."

But sometimes we're afraid of just letting go and seeing what happens.

And that's often because we're afraid of making mistakes.

But, as Gregory asks in an earlier chapter ("Celebrate Your Mistakes"), "what is 'a mistake' really?"
Isn't it just an outcome you hadn't anticipated? A variation from your expectation? And what made you right before (when you set up your expectations) but not during (when you drew your lines)?

So the real questions are:

What goes into your expectations? What's wrong with an unexpected outcome? What if you had tried to achieve it in the first place? What if you actually set out to draw whatever lopsided mess you are chastising yourself for? Could you have? Could you have purposefully created this mistake?

And beyond: Have you been able to survive the most horrendous mistakes of your past? Should a mistake or fear of a mistake prevent you from reaching your goal? Can you expand your mind to deal with the unexpected? What would life be like without mistakes? Without gravity? Without evolution?
Not only does Gregory offer advice on how to deal with your inner critic, he offers questions that can help you gain perspective on your work and the risks such work requires.

Although The Creative License is designed for artists, many writers can benefit from Gregory's wisdom on creativity and his insights into how to sustain one's creative vision over the course of a life-time.

Here's what the Table of Contents offers:
1. Drawing: Kick-starting your creativity and learning to see
2 Journaling: Making creativity into a habit
3. Shock: Blasting your butt out of a rut
4. Sensitization: Re-connecting with reality
5. Resistance: Winning the fight to go on
6. Judgment: From enemy to ally
7. Identity: Who you are and why that's fine
8. Expanding: Broadening your creativity
9. Next: Creativity in the real world
Anyway, you don't have to want to draw to find worthwhile advice in this book. You just have to want to create, and Gregory will help you open your eyes to the creative sparks that dwell within you.

For more information on Gregory and his work, visit his website:

For an interview with Gregory, visit:

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