Three tools in creative work

Taste, interest and intuition are powerful tools in creative work. They drive our decision-making as we create. Of course, there might be more tools, if I can think of any more I might return to this.

When I think about it, taste might be the compass that takes us home. Interest is the wanderlust, that make us leave the usual path and head out into new terrain. Intuition, well, it might be the feeling that something great is just around the corner if we just put in that extra effort.

Taste is a kind of reflex. It can be a great strength, but it can also make us repeat ourselves. I remember listening to Rick Rubin talking to Brian Eno, who told the story of a period when he was tired of his own taste. 

The importance of getting lost is a recurring thought that I might have written about before. There are a lot of ways to get lost on purpose. Abitrary constraints such as not being allowed to use your favourite tools could be one strategy. 

A creative prompt could be another. And as a guitar player I have the opportunity of tuning my strings to an alternate tuning. When no position or grip on the fretboard sounds like home, you have no choice but to try to find your way back. Trying out strange chords and slowly finding parts that fit together.

I think this is taste at work. Presented with this sonic mess, we start trying to get it homely again. Finding something to play that sounds neat and tidy, comprehensible – music that makes sense.

Interest and exploration might be the reflex that comes before the retuning. A kind of restlessness with the same old. A desire to challenge our routines, our current skill-set, a longing and a realization that there’s got to be more than this.

And last intuition. What about it? Maybe we can see it as some kind of trust? Having a hunch and trusting the process. Accepting that we can’t control or know everything, but finding the courage to go out on a limb, to try something new – because it might work!

And when it doesn’t. We’ll try again, in some other way.

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