Grow Creative Ears, Part 3

In the first post of this series, we explored a list of things, forces, people and situations to “actively listen to” so you could grow your creative practice.

In the second post, we explored a list of things NOT to listen to for maximum creative output.

In this third and final post on creativity as active listening, I wanted to share a few observations from my own creative practice, along with a collection of probing questions to challenge your own:

1. Become an expert at NOTICING. That means discerning those little details that send your brain off to the creative races. Ancillary answers, happy accidents, internal comments, what’s around you, what doesn’t work and how quickly people understand and respond to your ideas. It also means Meta Noticing: Noticing the fact THAT you’re noticing. Because awareness is the first step towards mastery.

LISTEN TO THIS: What are you noticing?

2. Creation = Reaction. Literally. It’s an anagram. Same letters. (Cool, huh?) So, watch how you immediately react to things. Notice how you take in information and process experiences. Observe the mobilization of your inner resources, for these movements will allow you to create something beautiful.

LISTEN TO THIS: Are you listening and watching your initial responses?

3. Curiosity is active response to life. It’s about observation, followed by questions. Asking yourself, asking others, asking the world. Spying on the universe. Metabolizing the strands and tendrils of so many sparkling creatures and melding them into your own reality. Participating in the world around you as fully and actively as you possibly can.

LISTEN TO THIS: Are you asking enough questions?

4. Everything is fodder. I repeat: Everything. Material. Content. Ingredients. The world is one big-ass idea market, and it’s all F-R-E-E! There are no lines, and coupons are irrelevant. If you see something you like and you want, and you take it. Then, when you get home, you mix it with related thoughts and conjure something bigger, as you become bigger yourself.

LISTEN TO THIS: From which unusual and obscure places do you get your material?

5. Everything is prey. No limitations. Nothing is off-limits. Everything is fair game. Whatever the artist sees, he or she can use. Steal. Pluck. Insert. Capture. Marry ideas with other ideas. (Of course, this doesn’t mean plagiarism. It means capturing the essence of something and making it your own. So be careful!)

LISTEN TO THIS: What did you extract today?

6. Learn to freeze things. All this fodder, this material surrounding you – that you eat and perceive through your personal filter – you must be able to F-R-E-E-Z-E. That means you see something, take a Mental Polaroid of it and then clothespin it onto your psyche for further evaluation. As it freezes, you view it from all angles. You walk 360 degrees around it. You investigate it. Ask it questions. Maybe poke it a little. Rip its clothes off, strip it of every outer layer until its essence plops down on that imaginary interrogation chair, staring at you.

LISTEN TO THIS: Are you freezing your observations?

7. Listen, listen and listen. Listen to your work from a cool, objective distance. But be sure to do so in a way that prevents you from falling in love with your work. (This prevents emotions from disturbing the process.) See, that’s all writers do: they listen. To the world, to the people, to the ideas that zoom and fly in, to what their hearts are telling them to write. So, never stop listening. Identify the language of your own thought.

LISTEN TO THIS: Are you writing or listening?

8. Notice your soundscapes. Anyone who says, “I never have any good ideas,” or “I have writer’s block” or “There’s nothing good out there,” … IS A TERRIBLE LISTENER. To themselves. To the world. To others. No ideas? Bullshit. They’re everywhere! You just need to figure out what wants to be written. To figure out what your Muse is telling you. To figure out what new piece of material is standing by for your plucking. Remember: Opportunity never stops knocking – only YOU stop listening. So, saddle up. Finger through the jukebox of your creative mind and locate that ONE unique song you’re supposed to be singing. Then, belt it out!

LISTEN TO THIS: What’s your excuse for NOT having any good ideas?

9. Perpetually hunt for insight. Inspiration is ENDLESS and EVERYWHERE. And if you maintain an attitude of curiosity, exploration and expectation in everything you do, it’s yours for the plucking. So, be constantly scanning. Like one of those secret service dudes with one hand on their gun and the other on their earpiece. Ceaselessly looking around, sweeping the crowd and scrutinizing the scene for things and people that don’t belong. Allowing objects and events and people to let loose some movement in your mind.

LISTEN TO THIS: What little things do you always seem to notice?

10. Register the moment. Mark it down. Label it. Name it. Call it something. Then, put it where it needs to go. (Not in an overly specific way, as you don’t want to prematurely, cognitively commit to something.) Just enough where it can go somewhere with its friends. Where it fits in. Where it belongs. Where it can be returned to a later time and picked up exactly where it left off.

LISTEN TO THIS: Where does this new idea belong?

11. Scanning. Find interesting in anything. Study ordinary things intently. See yourself in anything. Plug whatever you perceive into the equations of your topic and your philosophy and expertise. Ask yourself how it relates to you, why it’s interesting, how it’s an example or symbol of something that’s important to you.

LISTEN TO THIS: What mundane things do you find fascinating?

– – –

REMEMBER: Creativity is the ultimate form of active listening.

So, learn what to listen to. Learn what (not) to listen to.

Practice being silently attentive and letting your art be subordinate to your life.

How are you using you ears as a creative tool?

For the list called, “49 Ways to become a Idea Powerhouse,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Nobody talking about your business?

Bummer. Perhaps I could help on a more personal, one-on-one basis.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

Grow Creative Ears, Part 2

In the first post of this series, we explored a list of things, forces, people and situations to “actively listen to” so you could grow your creative practice.

Next, let’s work counter-intuitively. Here’s a list of six things (NOT) to listen to for maximizing creative output:

1. Don’t listen to that evil little devil of procrastination.
Because resistance hath slain an endless list of would-be artists.
And in the words of Edison, “I start where other men leave off.”

SO, THINK: Are you creating what wants to be created?

2. Don’t listen to inspiration ONLY.
Because it often comes unannounced.
And in the words of Tchaikovsky, “A self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood. If we wait for the mood, without endeavoring to meet it halfway, we easily become indirect and apathetic.”

SO, THINK: Are you inspired or disciplined?

3. Don’t listen to your conditioned mind.
Because it’s just telling your ego the story it wants to hear.
And in the words of Eckhart Tolle, “Don’t ask your mind permission to enjoy what you do.”

SO, THINK: Are you letting your unconscious mind get in the way?

4. Don’t listen to people who tell you to stop singing so loud.
Because their imagination can’t encompass what it is that you want to do.
And in the words of Neitzche, “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who couldn’t hear the music.”

SO, THINK: Whom are you allowing to murder your creative nature?

5. Don’t listen to what everyone else is doing.
Because it’s more fun to ask how YOU can do it, instead of asking how it’s BEEN done.
And in the words of Napoleon Hill, “Listen to the music that stirs in your heart.”

SO, THINK: How often does perfection keep you from starting?

6. Don’t listen to self-appointed criticizers.
Because there’s not a single museum in the word displaying a statue of a critic.
And in the words of James Hubbel, “Art is learning how to be quiet.”

SO, THINK: How can you “fight back with your art” instead of getting defensive?

What do you (not) listen to?

For the list called, “101 People (not) to Listen to,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Still haven’t finished that book you started in 1997?

Bummer. Perhaps I could help on a more personal, one-on-one basis.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

Grow Creative Ears, Part 1

You’re a creative professional.
You make a living off your ideas.
Your ideas are your major source of income.

So, naturally, you want to have as many ideas as possible, right?


The challenge, of course, is getting those ideas to come to you.

Which sounds like a lot of work, but it’s really not.

Because all you have to do is open your ears.

AFTER ALL: Creativity the ultimate form of active listening.

In this first post of the three-post series, we’re going to explore a list of six things to listen to in your creative practice:

1. Listen to your muse.
Because she’s doing most of the work.
And in the words of Erich Fromm, “Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.”

SO, THINK: Are you willing to surrender comfort and control?

2. Listen to the situation.
Because the solution is already there.
And in the words of Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, “Participate as fully as possibly in the world around you. You shape your life by deciding to pay attention to it. It is the direction of your attention and its intensity that will determines what you accomplish and how well.”

SO, THINK: Are you softening your eyes?

3. Listen to other people.
Because they will spark your creative juices.
And in the words of Andrew Finlayson, “Successful people know a universe of people they can ask for help.”

SO, THINK: How would a left brainer, a fool or a cynic approach this problem?

4. Listen to your innermost desires.
Because they know what’s best for you.
And in the words of Chet Raymo, “Let us worship the spine and its tingle.”

SO, THINK: Are you releasing the music that is in you?

5. Listen to the consistencies in your life.
Because they don’t lie.
And in the words of Emerson, “We should learn to detect and watch the gleam of light which flashes across our own minds.”

SO, THINK: Are you a hunter of patterns?

6. Listen to what the world is trying to tell you.
Because life leaves clues.
And in the words of Buckminster Fuller, “Intuition is cosmic fishing, you feel a nibble and then you’ve got to hook the fish.”

SO, THINK: Are you creating what wants to be created?

Are you growing creative ears?

For the list called, “49 Ways to become an Idea Powerhouse,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

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