Inside the Community – Nathanael Iversen – Creativity and Freedom
The key here is to start small – with something simple – almost insignificant. Find joy, interest or whatever emotion you are looking for in a small snippet. Don’t ask for the whole thing at once. You’ll get so much that you won’t be able to write it all down, think about it or deal with it. Ease into the Pool, celebrate that little bit, let it grow on you. It should feel like a child playing. Playing is the easiest and best way to engage the Creative Pool. Experiment with something, then ask, “what else does it want to do?”. Then play with that. Write it down – fill the page with black marks, and then another and another. They are free! – just like the ideas themselves. It is this iterative process of gradually asking, exploring and writing that becomes an almost unspeakable joy.
I’ve learned that I need to keep it light and playful, in a place of joyful exploration, not a place of forced production. The Pool doesn’t work that way. It gives up its best to the earnest and humble inquirer who will take what is given with gratitude, hope, and curiosity. I have learned that if I’ve gathered things in this way and they don’t seem worthy to me, to just set them aside and sleep on it. Invariably, I come back the next day and think, “this is quite good, I know exactly what to do with it.” And often, I have to use my inner ear to hear the melody on different instruments – the piano is wonderful as an instrument, but often others are better suited for the melody, and I need to place it so that it sings. As soon as I do, I start hearing orchestration possibilities and it is time to sketch and develop!
At this point, my work with the Pool will change once again. I am now moving from raw receiving into wanting to craft this work. This is the work of being a composer. The asking and receiving is a core skill that all artists should master, whether musician or not. My skill matters for this stage. But it is not all on me. I just change the questions I ask. Now, I am not necessarily asking for new material, but for new approaches. What tools should I use to expand this material? What orchestration decisions should I make? It is still a bunch of simple decisions, made one at a time. Then I employ craft to do the work. If I want to change it, I can! And so, the great work of writing a piece for all those instruments gets done in little tiny steps, each of them easy by itself, but very complex when looked at afterward.
A major goal for every CIT (composer in training) is to find these easy paths for yourself. What can you do to start a piece easily? Are you good at gathering? What consistently works for you? Have you developed multiple ways of hearing and receiving? How many? Should you try more? One of the great things about being human is being able to think about our own thoughts. Take a few minutes before starting your next piece and see how you can make each stage simple, and then just string them together.
Best wishes on your journey!