Capturing Creative Moments: I Know Kung Fu
It doesn’t happen often. When it does, don’t let it get away.
Creativity sometimes comes in one lightning-bolt moment of clarity, instead of a slow process of refinement. Capturing creative moments is not unlike Neo’s download in “The Matrix:”
This happened to me the first time I heard Johnny Cash’s rendition of Hurt, a song originally written by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. It was one of the last songs he recorded before his death, and his rich, aged voice added a whole new layer of poetry to the lyric and driving music. It captured my mind, and suddenly it happened:
I knew how it would sound if I could do it, and I knew how to get that sound.
At that moment, you’ve really only got one choice: you’ve got to jump headfirst down the rabbit hole.
I spent hours recording the song with only a hand-held voice recorder and direct outs from practice amps. That produced a scratch track that attracted an audio production major to the project, and he got us into a professional studio on a couple of week nights. I brought in a friend to add his amazing voice to the project, so we spent a couple hours on a Saturday morning recording with him.
When all the dust settled, the mastered mix sounded exactly as I pictured. You can listen to it here:
It’s difficult to say that I could repeat this experience now; at the time I had a couple of advantages that the average spare room wouldn’t have. I was a single guy working part time, so I had a lot of time. And I was able to gain access to a few thousand dollars worth of equipment for free. But I took a couple of lessons from the experience that carry on in the Spare Room Project today.
A clear goal breeds enthusiasm – I knew what I wanted, and I wanted it bad. That enthusiasm attracted others to the project, and together we were able to create something much better than what I made on my own. And when we needed direction I was able to share a very specific vision with my team, capturing creative moments with them.
The next time you’re struck with a creative inspiration, take the time to bring it to fruition. If you have even one project you can point to and say, “That worked; I’m proud of that,” you’ll experience what it means to be creative in limited space.
To put it another way, you’ll learn kung fu.