Inspirations and Perspiration: getting things done | #Creativity

This week I have been reading some articles and posts (that randomly appeared in my timelines), that in a way, connect themselves. They all talk about creativity block, talent, inspiration and perspiration. I know, this is not a new topic at all, but for some strange reason, I think we all need to be reminded of some things from time to time. And to remind me of all it’s needed to be, I’m writing this article (yes, this is all about me, not you….. nah, just – kind of – kidding).

maxresdefault.jpgIt all started with this article, written by Gordon McGladdery (@AShellinthePit) for the Designing Sound Blog, called Inspirations / Distractions. It’s a short text where he talks about the how many of us keep waiting for the inspiration to come, and that is just a way of sabotaging ourselves and give up to the fear of exposing. He also explains how, as a professional who has deadlines and compromises, he get things done: creating, trying, failing, trying, etc.

Reading this article reminded me of two things.

First, an old phrase (which I don’t know the author) that says: creating something is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. I’m sure you have heard it in different ways, many times. But think about it. What it means is: instead of standing there waiting for that genius idea to come, you gotta work hard for it to appear and shine. Just waiting to have a great idea to start with, won’t get you anywhere. Is merely a way of avoiding work, avoiding to create and sabotaging yourself (many times because of the insecurity of exposing our creations and the fear of rejection).

Forget about talent (I know, I’m going into some pretty polemic subject matter here). Talent is a word that many times takes all the hard work and persistence out of the equation. I hate when people talk about a great artist saying “he/she is amazing because he/she is incredibly talented”. For example, if you have ever read Eric Clapton’s autobiography, you can see how much time he took studying, playing and copying people before becoming what he became. And this is just one example. So “talent” just makes you skip the hard working part, and wait there, for your big break idea to come.

Second, a small group talk I had with Matthew Marteinsson (@mattesque), where he told us that he doesn’t use plugins is a “normal” way (putting them on the effects channel rack), but always in a destructive way (AudioSuite). And, the reason for is: this stops him on overthinking his decisions, and second guessing. He does what he thinks it’s gonna be good, and then if it fails, it fails fast and he has the time to restart. And that’s a great way of thinking!

I’m not saying everybody should just use plugins in a destructive way. But everybody should embrace failure as something sure to happen sometimes and that gets you to do better things.Fail is about letting things go, and restarting them, rethinking them. But to fail on something, you gotta try. You gotta do. You don’t fail sitting there, waiting for that idea and the perfect scenario to come. You fail when you create and work on something.

Going back to Gordon’s article, there’s one more thing that he tell us: how he thinks creatively when in a forced boredom.

I think this is just meditation but it sounds less hippy-dippy. I use it from time to time when there is a particular problem that needs to be solved, often for business stuff and technical implementation problems, or when I simply want a new idea. It is a form of noodling in its own right, explained in this John Cleese lecture on creativity.

Our brains demand entertainment in perpetuity. The current generation has been able to provide this via smartphones and constant connectivity. Unfortunately, this unending distraction puts a clamp on original thought. Why do you think all the thinkers of yore were able to get so much revolutionary stuff done? They were aristocrats who didn’t need to work and had nothing to do but let their brains entertain them with original thought when they weren’t out shooting pheasants or courting Mr. Darcy or whatever.

So: ditch the phone, holster your blunderbuss, grab a proper analog pen & paper and go somewhere quiet where no one’s going to bug you for a couple hours. Without distraction your brain will–after it’s done obsessing over high school romantic blunders and taxes–start entertaining itself, sometimes in the form of original ideas. Brain noodling. Write the interesting things down & curate later. It might all suck, you might completely formulate something awesome, or you might plant a seed for something that will become awesome.

The main point here is to focus. Focusing can be hard nowadays, and is getting out of fashion, but it is still a great way of getting thins done. I’ve read somewhere that “multitasking” is just bullshit for the majority of people. It simply doesn’t work, because our brain doesn’t work well when multitasking. And you may think it does, but is mainly because you’re getting used to the results you have when multitasking. For many, many people, focusing on one thing at a time gets things done better and quicker.

So, one last thing. I’m going to leave this video here, so you can watch it. It has something to do with what I have discussed on this post, and some other cool insights too.

Hope you get things done! 🙂

Mauricio Ruiz –


One thought on “Inspirations and Perspiration: getting things done | #Creativity

  1. Pingback: Craig Henighan on the Sound Design of Stranger Things | #SoundDesign | Audio & Music

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