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Have you ever wondered how many great songs DO NOT get written? How many great creative ideas DO NOT ever happen? How many great business ideas evaporate?
Creative and talented types are often good at thinking up great lyrics or riffs or ideas – but many ideas are like big, beautiful ideas that briefly flit before your eyes and then disappear – never to be seen again.
I’m always encouraged by the Keith Richards story about the riff for Satisfaction. Apparently, Keith knew his talent AND his limitations.
He got into the habit of taking recording devices with him – even on the road.
When he’d get an idea – he’d capture it.
The story is that he came up with the Satisfaction riff – recorded it – then “went off to sleep”.
When he woke up he couldn’t remember the riff – but he remembered that he had recorded it.
He went to his “machine” (probably an old reel-to-reel back in those days) – and there the riff was.
All because he had the “discipline” to capture it then and there!
Actually, the legend is that he heard the riff in a dream – got up and recorded the riff – then went BACK to sleep.
I think that shows even more discipline and planning on Keith’s part!!
We often think we’ll remember things – or that we’ll do it later.
But what usually happens is – we get distracted by another beautiful, flitting butterfly – and we forget the first one!
US creativity expert Sam Horn has a great saying that I now apply:
Ink it when you think it!
Don’t wait! Get into the habit of writing it down OR recording music riffs, chord progressions then and there!
Now, creative types often have big egos. But the clever ones also know their limitations – and the danger that they can forget things.
I respect and admire Keith’s talent AND his recording ritual and I encourage YOU to do the same.
Things are so much easier these days. Keith probably had to have his people lug around some bulky tape recorder – probably reel-to-reel back in the Satisfaction days!
These days, it’s so easy for you to capture voice and images on your smartphone.
I’ve recently got into the habit of using those Post-it notes. I carry around some in an old passport holder.
Often notes can get buried in a notebook. The post-it helps you keep the ideas visible and they are easy to take and keep with you – and they are easy to “transfer”. Sure, they can be easy to lose too – but not if you get into good rituals!
My friends often tease me about my note taking and post-it rituals – but hey – it works for me!
Also, I try to always carry a small notebook. (you can also see in the passport holder)
As a back-up, if an idea comes when I an “unarmed” without a note book – I record ideas on my i-phone.
The challenge is to then have the discipline to go through and harvest those ideas – to be a miner for those nuggets of gold.
Mmm…some old songs are now playing my head.
That gives me an idea – maybe Neil Young has some tips on his creative discipline!
It’s funny – many people think the words creative and discipline should not be in the same sentence. The artists with long-careers learn to add some discipline to their creativity.
Just look at how long Keith and The Stones have been successful!
This same discipline should apply – even if you are some corporate CEO who gets a great business idea.
This discipline is not just for the “creative” types in advertising or marketing.
Business leaders often “create” ideas too. Or at least, they should.
Anyway, I’m confident I will remember to pursue the idea to investigate any creativity capture tips from Neil Young.
I’ll write it down right now and record it before I forget!
If you know of any examples of artists techniques for recording their ideas – please add in the comments section below!
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