This blog entry is in response to a message from AEG below...
"More from the Einstein's Wife project. . .realize these are not exactly trumpet questions. . .but it is a mind question. . .which presumably partially drives (trumpet) design innovation. Am looking for accounts of internal process of mathematical abstract thought and creativity. . .what is it like when you are designing/creating/implementing. . .is it visual? Instinctual? Linear? Linguistic? An integration of various sorts of thought? Is it a something that is already complete that finds you, and your task is to become intimate with the details of execution? Does the form come first, or the content-or does the content eventually arrange itself into the final form, perfect in the sense of being complete? How much is applied effort/rational thought, and how much is involuntary/intuitive thought? Does an idea run endlessly in your head like music does, for better or for worse? Does it come suddenly upon you like falling in love, seducing you into its own reality until that idea IS your reality? Does it come with a whole family of siblings who also want to be actualized and are noisy and distracting while you are trying to focus on the first idea/project? Is it analogous to musical processes/composition? I'm just a writer/musician and could be totally off with this. . .maybe it's a very literal/linear process and therefore not all that interesting to write about. The people I know who are good at that sort of thing tend not to be the greatest at translating their thoughts into words, and not particularly interested in doing so. Would very much appreciate it if you find these questions interesting enough to spend time on. And you know you can get translation apps for your phone, right? Most people in Europe speak English anyway."
I do find your questions interesting and I am often asked at least some part of your very thorough inquiry. I'm a little of everything I guess. The creative process is not something I see in myself. I mean, I don't think about being a creative person, I just do what comes to mind. But setting in motion the actions necessary to complete an idea often takes years of dedicated repeated approaches to the problems presented throughout the process. The most difficult part of the process for me has been simply learning to be patient enough to see the design process replicated in the production process through all the various stages of miscalculation, mistaken assumptions and the tremendous learning curve of tranforming metal. The ideas represented in my work today are easily 7 or 8 years old. The new ideas may not materialize for years or never at all. I have more drawings and ideas for designs than I could build in a lifetime. So there is much truth in what you said, every idea has a family of relatives that distract me often and I must focus on one keeping the others at bay. I usually write three priority ideas on a sheet of paper and try to ignore everything else and often everyone else. That piece of paper will determine whether or not I visit family, spend time with friends or walk my dog. But if I didn't write three ideas down, I could very easily become paralyzed with headaches and a kind of blindness/vertigo...this happens every 50-60 days. It always happens when I am not focused enough on one project and let my mind wander.
I don't know how to be creative. I sometimes get flooded with thoughts...these could be principles in science or life or flowing shapes and movement. The same happens in my music. I stopped reading music many years ago and now only read on gigs when necessary. I found that fitting into standard swing or bop styles wasn't natural for me so I stopped practicing in those defined genres. Now I pick up my horn and blow, whatever comes out I build upon and then again and again without any conscious thought so far as I know. Sometimes I don't even know what has come out of the horn unless I hear a recording. It surprises me how much more I enjoy playing when my approach has no rules so that's likely why I do it.
With all that said, I should mention that I have consciously and intentionally trained myself to be efficient in my thoughts, maybe because I am so often innefficient. When I was young, say 10 years old, I recall having a continuous flow of ideas that would not stop. I would tell my parents and they would give me feedback, then I'd draw the idea and imagine how it could be made. I would make a prototype (finished product from my perspective back then) from whatever means and skill I possessed or could possess. An amphibious bicycle was one project that saw several reincarnations before it really worked. Sling shots were another. As I became a teenager, I studied industrial and philosophical leaders and soon realized that one must work hard to make ideas reality. And that is when I began training myself to cultivate new ideas and be productive, maybe at 14? I read that you could more easily remember your dreams by waking yourself at random times in your sleep cycles, so I started doing this and kept a notebook by my bed. I remember dreaming of trumpet solos and eventually full orchestral compositions and waking up to sing them into a microphone on cassette tape. The ideas seemed to come more vividly and I suspect I began to blend the dream world with reality at some point. So is creativity a natural process or did I help it along? I would guess both and I believe this is true of all people on this planet. Some help it along and others work to let it go, but it's there for everyone to discover.
Over the years, I began giving myself problems to work out in my sleep and I do this almost every night to this day. I began practicing Japanese Zen minus the Buddhism at 16 and this transformed the way I deal with outside expectations. Studying Japanese martial arts became a part of my life, which is essentially a form of living meditation that removes artificial and material expectations to some extent. I'm not sure I can explain how this works...I tend to be so firmly in the present that the past and future do not exist except in the form of visualizing a new creation or experience. I'm not sure how this may be different from other people, but it must play some part in the creative process.
I mention all of this disciplining myself to be productive because I KNOW my tendency is to run away with ideas! I can very easily think myself into getting nothing done, which would have resulted in creating nothing. I know this is why I am firmly against formal education. There are so many opportunities to crush the creative flow in school and yet how do you teach all the aspects of being a productive, efficient, responsible human being while cultivating a creative mind? I have no idea...maybe raise your kids in a semi truck on the road and let them pick and choose their interests from the real world rather than a text book? Teach them the tools through real life experiences with no clear goal in mind? Who knows, maybe I had a brain tumor as a kid like the doctors suspected and that screwed up my mind? I don't know. What I do know is that having ideas all day long is more of a burden than a blessing even when I think I can be disciplined and prudent.
I have no idea what I have just rambled on about, again the recent past is replaced with new thoughts this very moment. The best way to sum up my answer, which may not be an answer at all, is that I am very careful to be disciplined with the process of producing physical examples of 1 to 3 ideas written on a piece of paper. And I really have no clear way of controlling the flow of ideas, concepts and visualizations (yes, they are usually visual and sometimes vivid clear memories somehow, maybe from dreams?) that come into my mind, they just do and I try my very best to write the 3 most important down and work on them. When playing trumpet, this is very easy as I can usually play whatever comes to mind, but taking an idea through physical production in most mediums is like torture and an adrenaline-filled rush all at the same time.