Over the past week two different people, both of whom are approximately 32, seemed surprised that I had heard of the singing group Coldplay.
The frenetic marketing of Coldplay’s new record would make it hard not to have heard of them. To dig up a little more on Coldplay, I turned to YouTube. I found several of their pieces that I liked (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VX1eJHE1K_s&feature=related),
and I also liked some of what I heard in an interview with Coldplay’s Chris Martin.
Hearing Chris Martin talk about the hours he works and his creative process also led me to think of other ways people generate ideas for their writing.
1. Seat Time – Put the Hours in
In an interview on the Charlie Rose show, Chris Martin was surprised to be asked where he gets his ideas for the words and music of his songs. Martin confessed that he, like most composers and writers, doesn’t know where his ideas for music and lyrics come from. He said, “I just sit and play and play and play. I never know where a song comes from. It’s time. I just put the hours in.”
2. Structure Fairy
Sometimes even if you put in the hours in the style of Chris Martin, you still may not feel in flow or feel that you have a good idea for your writing.
A couple of people have told me that they put in the hours– they both work and work, but all too frequently they stall. They come to an impasse. However, after sleeping on the problem and awakening the next morning, the solution frequently comes to them.
One coach friend is a brilliant writer but nevertheless struggles to make her writing brilliant. Since problems with structuring her ideas frequently bring her writing to a halt, she is delighted at the “arrival” of a solution. She says that after a long work session that has not yielded her what she wants, she leaves the work until morning. While she sleeps, oftentimes the Structure Fairy visits her.
I don’t argue with fairies or leprechauns, but I humbly suggest that our wonderful brains can give us marvelous gifts when we move away from a trying project and use a different part of our brain or if we exercise or if we just get a good night’s sleep.
3. Behavioral Economics
What if you almost or actually hate the project you’re working on, and there are no fairies coming to your rescue?
A client told me that a friend of his once put a large sum of money on a roommate’s desk and said, “If I don’t finish this chapter of my thesis, this money is yours.”
My client also said that if you are unable to meet your goal, established websites are in business to help you threaten yourself. You can give someone $1,000 at one of these websites, and if you don’t meet your goal, the company gets to keep the money.
I’ve heard a similar kind of pact, in which you give a significant amount of money to someone, and tell that person your announced goal—a specific, measureable goal– and when you will reach it. If you reach your goal, the money goes to the political candidate of your choice. If you don’t reach your goal… yep, you got it… the money goes to the opposing candidate. I first heard of this idea years ago, and the threat was that if you didn’t meet your goal, your money would to go to Jesse Helms, now deceased, but who at one time was a very conservative senator.
Every day we have a narrative, and every day we talk our selves through our day. But sometimes talk doesn’t work, and we have to take an extreme action to jolt ourselves into action.
Fear of failure can scare most of us into action; however, if you promise yourself a reward for achieving a goal or if you make an effort to be optimistic and work to feel positive about reaching your goal, you are more likely to be successful.
Hoping you’re putting in the hours—