Jim Lange Published

Composing Oneself – 20 Quips About the Creating Process


A creative life or daily creative activity is a funny thing- fraught with missteps, miscues and misfires. It is not, as we might think, a Sturm und Drang artistic wrestle with the fates. It’s far more practical and hilarious than that.

Occasionally, an amusing thought, often containing a bitter grain of truth, will pop into my head.This is a partial list of these nuggets of “wisdom.”

1. Coffee helps. A lot.

2. Let your voice be the only one speaking in your head.

3. Create a space for silence. Music comes from there.

4. Listen, don’t think.

5. Don’t worry, that feeling of superiority will pass.

6. Is this necessary?

7. Not every idea has merit.

8. Inspiration doesn’t last long.

9. Don’t blame others for your mistakes.

10. It might not be the composer’s fault, but it is at rehearsal.

11. Trust the morning playback.

12. Panic is an option, but not a good one.

13. You are a child of the universe. Blah, blah, blah. Write the piece.

14. Players will give you incredulous looks. Plan on it.

15. Don’t be so precious.

16. When you’re tired, you’re going to hate everything. Go do something else.

17. If you start using terms like “macro and micro” or “pitch structures,” you need to slap yourself.

18. Envy is always partnered with self-doubt.

19. This isn’t actually working for a living.

20. Don’t go down the rabbit hole.