Musicians: Here's the Thing About Creativity That Took Me Way Too Long to Learn

Posted by Jonathan Hack on Feb 9, 2016 09:00 AM

Brain-1.jpgImage via Wikimedia Commons

This is a perspective I wish I had long ago. Creativity is a funny thing. It’s arguably in all of us, yet it isn’t always easy to access. In fact, sometimes it's downright fickle – here one moment and gone the next. It occurs to me that we appeal to our creativity for so many things that it couldn't possibly keep up: fulfillment, release, expression, notoriety, escape, and money (to name a few). Perhaps the last is the most troublesome.

I’ve learned that creativity must be nurtured. For instance, I’m a creative person. I’ve been involved in music and writing for as long as I can remember. In simpler times – when I didn’t have to support myself – the creativity flowed freely like a voluptuous, babbling brook. I didn’t place expectations on it; I just let it be. I promised myself that I would practice every day in order to polish my art, but I never charged creativity with supporting my entire existence.

That was until I graduated college with a BFA. From that day forward, my creativity was to be the sole breadwinner. My art and my income. My defining feature and my sugar daddy. And you know what? Eventually it dried up. It couldn’t take the strains of being my everything. Once I depended on it to save me from a life of bartending, it decided to pack its bags and seek another bartender with a better outlook.

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Now this sounds rather miserable, I know. And sometimes it can be, but the main idea is to treat your creativity as an equal. Freely put it out in the world without any expectations. Creativity doesn’t like to be relied on. It likes to... create. The good news is that it never truly departs. Oftentimes it’s just buried under fear, or stress, or fatigue from working until 4:00 a.m.

I know what you’re thinking. "That’s all fine and good, but how am I supposed to make money?" My answer: You’re creative! You’ll figure it out.

It wasn’t until I took the burden off of my creativity that it came back out to play. I still seek creative outlets, but I don’t depend on them to be my source of income or ticket to fame. If unimaginable riches are a by-product, then so be it!

So, here’s what I’m suggesting: let creativity off the hook. That doesn’t mean I think you should give up your goals. Quite the contrary. Always chase the dream! Practice your art. Put your work out there where it can be discovered. Just don’t expect anything. I think that’s the most important lesson. You have to be okay with no results. It can’t affect your pursuit. After all, you got into music one day because it felt good and resonated within you. Trace your passion back to its root, and you might be surprised by how fulfilled you feel.

As for the day job? Do whatever you'd like! It won’t be forever, and it will provide room and board for you and your creativity.


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Jonathan Hack is a Brooklyn resident, musician, writer, and ping pong aficionado. His career in the theatre has spanned acting, music direction, production, carpentry, and more. As a marketer, he has worked with major brands in music and fashion. He is a proud member of AEA and NATS. Follow him on Twitter @writerninja and on Instagram @jonnyhack.

Topics: Musician Life, opinion


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