This & That: A Couple Ideas About Creativity
A lesson about music that carries over.
Hi there readers,
In this edition of the newsletter, I write about my piano lessons, share a list of books on creativity, and, as always, share some great links for you to peruse.
Let’s get right to it!
Something I’m Thinking About: Taking Breaks to Get Unstuck
I’ve been taking weekly, in-person piano lessons for almost four months now. It’s become one of the highlights of my week and a truly fulfilling new hobby.
A couple months, I decided to print off the sheet music for Interstellar’s main theme song — it’s one of my favorite movies and one of my favorite epic soundtracks. I’ve watched the pro video below about a million times since I first started taking lessons:
The piece is definitely a bit advanced given where I started, but I’ve been chugging away, a few notes and measures at a time and I’ve made some pretty good progress! If you watch the video above, I can get through the first ~2:30.
After weeks of obsessive playing, I was starting to feel a little stuck. Like I wasn’t getting any smoother or more proficient. So I took a break. For a full week — which sort of feels like an eternity when you’re a piano beginner — I didn’t touch the piece.
Last Thursday, I picked it up again, expecting it to feel a little rusty. Instead, I played through what I knew as smoothly as I ever have. My fingers knew what to do and it felt great.
As a person who writes a lot, I should’ve known this would be the case. There are times when pounding away at the laptop quits working and I need to take a walk or even just make a fresh cup of coffee.
It was nice to learn, though, that the magic of taking a break, even an extended one, carries over into other creative disciplines.
If you’re feeling stuck or frustrated in your work — like the tap has been closed shut — the best thing you can do is walk away for a bit. Your brain will fill in the gaps and the creative tap will open afresh.