November 7, 2012

No Artifice, Part One

Posted in Creativity, self-consciousness tagged , , at 1:17 pm by Rebecca Hein

In cello playing, the best results are almost always obtained through a complete lack of control. This assumes that you’ve practiced your pieces to perfection so that your reflexes, when set free, will perform with no restrictions, not even the effort to get the notes right.

Practicing also goes better when you let your muscles work with as little interference as possible from your conscious mind. Thus you’ve created the conditions for natural motions, unimpeded by artifice.

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October 24, 2012

Self-Exploitation, Part Six

Posted in Creativity, self-exploitation tagged , at 3:27 am by Rebecca Hein

I’ve always known that artists can’t think about their work in the normal way. So many years are required to achieve proficiency that one really can’t expect on-the-job training.

Nobody paid me to practice the cello and nobody paid me to learn to write. Yet even after I’d reached professional caliber, I still too often settled for absurdly low remuneration.

My work, and the potential beauty in it, has always exerted the stronger pull.

June 20, 2012

Perfect Moments, Part Three

Posted in Creativity, Depth, Peak Experiences tagged , , at 3:47 pm by Rebecca Hein

The art of not grabbing for your best work has to be practiced just like any other skill. It’s a state of mind where you must balance your desire to write well with a complete release of that hope.

This may feel impossible, but it probably isn’t any harder than musical performance, where you want to play your best, yet know that this very goal will defeat you if it is foremost in your mind. To get lost in the music, forgetting everything else, is the way to play your best.

June 13, 2012

Perfect Moments, Part Two

Posted in Creativity, freewriting, Peak Experiences, writing techniques tagged , , , , at 4:43 pm by Rebecca Hein

If our best work feels like a gift from above and therefore not something we can just grab, how do we achieve it? What I’ve learned from cello playing has taught me the answer.

In a series of wonderful, serendipitous practice sessions, I expected nothing. Making no attempt to recapture the best achievements of the previous day, I simply launched into my warm-ups and the beautiful, easy folk songs that deliver pure enjoyment.

For writers this is part of the answer. Give yourself time for fun, easy writing. Too many hours spent struggling with plot, character, or scene will bog you down.

Instead, on a daily basis, write letters to yourself. Or rant about your frustrations. Anything to get the words moving, after which you can expect things to begin to sparkle.

June 6, 2012

Perfect Moments, Part One

Posted in Creativity, Peak Experiences tagged , at 4:33 pm by Rebecca Hein

The essence of a sublime experience is that you can’t hold onto it. Yet these transcendent moments in creativity produce our best stories, poems, and scenes. How do we attain this exalted state where we know we’re generating material many readers will want?

I began speculating about this several years ago when my cello practicing floated into that zone of enchantment where everything worked perfectly. Instinct told me I couldn’t repeat it. Yet I’ve been able to do just that, time after time, until I’ve nearly come to expect it.

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