Live It To Give It

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I don’t believe in writer’s block. Nor thinkers block, entrepreneur’s block, musician’s block, sculptor’s block, painter’s block, architect’s block, coder’s block, designer’s block. You get the idea.

With rare exception, your best stuff never comes from the dogged pursuit of a quest in a vacuum. It comes from space and life. Living and connecting so deeply that what’s inside simply must come out.

Next time you find yourself out of ideas. Stop trying to get ideas. Step away. Make art in another arena. Run. Jump. Hug. Play. Talk until 5am. Travel. Laugh uncontrollably. Weep relentlessly. Love deeply. Then come back. And do your art.

Charlie Parker said it best…

“Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn. They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to art…” Click to tweet

Now, go live a litte.

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18 responses

18 responses to “Live It To Give It”

  1. In the ancient world of pre-biblical times, the priestesses held the entire power of the Cosmos in their hands.

    Leaders would go to the temples and avail themselves of powerful voice and rhythm that would replenish their energy and attune them to the highest vibratory rate of the whole universe.

    Music was a highly evolved spiritual and physical science. I have spent my life in service to revive it’s practice.

    I am so happy to see you addressing the issue of the conscious use of music and sound. It is sorely needed today.
    Thanks alot!

  2. Danielle says:

    I just want to say thank you. I needed that vote for freedom to live. A breath of fresh air!

  3. Alan says:

    As a former psychotherapist who is now writing, coaching and speaking, I couldn’t agree with you more. So called writers block is merely perfectionism.

    When a client tells me they can’t write because they have writer’s block, what they are telling me is that they can’t write something they feel is good enough to write.

    We have to trust ourselves and what is within enough to let it flow out.

    • So true, Alan! It was only after giving myself the freedom to do anything — write crap or nonsense, make a mess on the canvas — that the prolific output I so desperately desired actually happened.

      I’m now an evangelist for imperfectionism. 😉

  4. I’m with you 100% on not taking much stock in “writer’s block.” One biographer claims “writer’s block” is an American obsession that Europeans generally didn’t talk much about. Impasses, yes. Challenges, yes. Brick walls, yes. But not this constructed beast we call “block.”

    Miles Davis, Legos, hiking, and modeling clay got me through this month’s personal Deep Create retreat. These are ways to play around & paint graffiti on the brick wall instead of banging my head against it.

    Thanks, bud.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Funny, Miles has become my go-to creative soundtrack lately. Seriously opens the floodgates.

  5. Jennifer smith says:

    Art I think is a reflection of our lives, our experiences. Go do some left-brained stuff and then your right brain will be full of perspective!

  6. Tim Keelan says:

    Agree on so such thing as writers or ideas block … ideas are never in short supply. I struggle with perfection … is the idea good enough, is the article, the phrase, etc.

    Thanks for this post …

  7. Liza says:

    Thank YOU Jonathan…for your inspiration. I will remember this post for a long time. Now I must hit Spotify and Miles Davis : ) LOVE!

  8. Srinivas says:

    Brilliant as always Jonathan. I think as a society we’re really obsessed with productivity. So we have all these cures for writers block, artists block, etc. But you nailed it when you said ” Stop trying to get ideas. Step away.” Anytime I get back from a surf session, I put my fingers on a keyboard and words just flow. I wrote 1300 words in 20 minutes yesterday. I think the other thing we have to do is be ok with our bad ideas. For every good one, we probably have 20 bad ones. This was a great way to start the morning. Thanks.

  9. I used to use writer’s block as an excuse. Now I realize that the blocked feelings I experience aren’t blocks to creativity; persevering through them *is* my creativity!

    The key, though, is that you have to persevere. That’s why I’ve borrowed (from where/whom I don’t know) the phrase “If you don’t know where to start, start anywhere,” as one of my 10 Rules for the Creative Sandbox.

    Sometimes the best way to persevere, as you say, is to step away for awhile and do something entirely different. Give the “insight” phase of the creative process some space to breathe and bubble.

    I love Jeffrey Davis’ metaphor of painting graffiti on the brick wall! Totally stealing that (with proper attribution, of course. :)) Sometimes my graffiti ends up being my best work!

    (BTW, as it happens, I’ve been immersed in Charlie Parker lately, learning to play the melody to Anthropology on my ukulele, to solo over the bebop song I recently wrote over his Anthropology changes [“Rhythm Changes”].

    Which took me months to finish. There was a lot graffiti to get that song done. :))

  10. Ann says:

    After art school, I got married, got a mortgage in the suburbs, and decided that a creative career just wasn’t practical. As a result, I didn’t paint or draw for over 7 years.

    Disheartened and anxious I attended a personal development seminar in San Francisco. Here I met an author also attending. I hadn’t painted and he had writer’s block, so we related to one another.

    A week later, visiting home in Ohio, a good friend urged me to pick up my paintbrush again. She had encouraged me before to no avail.

    My friend and I visited an art gallery. We stood in front of an etheriel and minimal sea scape glowing with color. My eyes filled with tears.

    Struck with emotion I collected myself on a park bench outside. As my emotions welled up I decided then and there to paint for the first time in over 7 years.

    And in that moment I glanced up and was stunned to see, only ten feet in front of me, the very same writer I had met at the seminar in San Francisco. (True story.)

    What were the random chances we’d meet again, just one week and 2000 miles later? The meeting was anything but random.

    We chatted for a few moments and I asked him, “Do you still have writer’s block?” He told me, “Yes I do.” It was at that very moment that I had an instantaneous flash of understanding.

    As he walked away I realized that he was choosing not to write … just as I had chosen not to paint. It was a matter of choice …

  11. Morgan says:

    I love this! I am a recovering drug addict and my mind has been “under construction and healing”.
    I have had the inspiration lately to write a book. I have no idea how to write a paper let alone a book but I’m going to do it. Thanks for inspiration that you have brought into my life.

  12. Marguerite says:

    LOVE this! Every once in a while I can’t seem to get past the jumble of ideas/energy in my mind and, as you said, I step away for a bit. It’s that wee bit of a break that allows that dam to break for me. People sometimes laugh when I tell them that I wait for particular components to ‘tell me what they want to be when they grow up’ but it’s true. The vision we see in our heads sometimes doesn’t end up being the end product. However, the end product is just as stunning, if not more so, because we intuitively know what to create if we just remove the boundaries.

  13. Absolutely brilliant Jonathan! I remember back in college, a professor once gave me an advice, “when you are stuck on a problem or staring a blank sheet trying to finish a paper, stick with it, it is important to put in the time, it will come to you…” You know what, I tried it. I figured, he is a professor, I should take his advice. It did not take long before I wanted to scratch my eyes out!!!! Finally, I said the hell with that. Next time I was stuck, I dropped everything, went to the gym for an hour of aerobics class. When I got back, I was totally refreshed, it all seemed to sink in better!

  14. Catherine says:

    I agree, when I get stuck in a rut or lose my mojo, (and most importantly when I recognise this) I change focus to other things, new things. The mojo returns in time.

  15. Renee says:

    Reminds me of a Martha Graham quote: “There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” (Saw this on poet/writer Ellen Bass’s website. You might check out her writing support escapes.) Thank you for your weekly inspiration, Jonathon!

  16. […] “If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.” –Charlie Parker, via Jonathan […]