“If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want and all that is left is compromise.” – Robert Fritz
We often think of creating or being creative as being innate. But creating can also be learned.
Years ago, I was fortunate to discover the work of Robert Fritz. He had developed a five-week course called simply “Creating,” and it was taught by certified instructors across the country. I was writing and recording a lot of the time and when I learned Robert was a musician and composer I was interested to see whether his course could help me.
I signed up for the course in Atlanta. My instructor was Scott Mers, who would eventually become one of my closest friends. Today, he’s Party on the Moon’s tour manager.
He taught the dynamics of what creators create, and that creating is a skill that can be learned with time and practice. Not only did the notion have an impact on me as an artist, but also it applied to all areas of my life. Robert’s course was a game-changer for me. I went on to become a course instructor and later taught an advanced version. Relaying its message to students helped me master the concepts.
This was a delightful time for me. I was learning and teaching the creative process, producing wonderful results in my own life, and helping others. To this day, I’m amazed how little is known about the creative process. It’s not taught in schools. Robert is still teaching today, and I do my best to attend his workshops. Today, I consider him a mentor and a friend. He’s one of those rare individuals who walks the walk.
There are many things anyone might choose to create: Good health, strong relationships, opportunities for our kids, a successful career, a happy home, an education, or health care for those who want it. At the end of the day, we simply want what we want. Some of us want to change the world and some of us want an organized closet. But we have the opportunity to create both, if we have the resources and the skills. There is no guarantee that you will produce everything you set out to create. Doing so is a skill developed over time. I have small goals and super-sized goals. Like any skill, the more mastery you develop, the easier it becomes.
Many of us see artists like Paul McCartney and assume they’ve been touched by the creating gods. Paul is a great example of a master creator, having written thousands of songs, many which millions of people whistle in the shower. But he’s also mastered the skill of “making it up” in that he can both create and adjust and modify. When Paul wrote “Yesterday,” it’s first title was “Scrambled Eggs.” “Scrambled eggs/Oh, my baby how I love your legs” was the working opening verse. Only later, after the melody was completed and more suitable lyrics were penned, did Paul arrive at the title of “Yesterday.” Today, a song that started out as “Scrambled Eggs,” is one of the most recorded songs in history.
When a musician creates a piece of music, he or she starts from nothing. The page is a blank. This is the starting point. This is when the writer “makes it up.”
It doesn’t matter whether you’re creating a song, a painting, a landscaping business or a relationship. The starting point is nothing. Everything is built from scratch. You, the creator, are in charge. You and no one else decides what you care enough about to create. We call this our goal or vision, the starting point where the creative process begins. So, what do you want?
One key thing I learned from my work with Robert Fritz was to separate what I wanted from what I thought was possible. This was a breakthrough for me. Until that point, I was making choices based on what alternatives were available. This idea changed the game. This was when I started “making it up.” I began to look at what I wanted to create without regard for whether it was possible.
Remember. Creating is not problem solving. While problem solving has a place, you can solve problems and still not have what you want.
Dream big. If you shoot for the moon and end up in the stars at least you’ve gotten into orbit.
Learning to Create is chapter 9 of Dennis Smith’s book, “Rock ‘n’ Roll, Martial Arts & God: Tips on Success from the Masters” which is available on Amazon.