Simon James French

Training your creative muscles

I’m currently reading Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. It’s a lovely read; I’m fascinated by his writing in general, but there’s something so calming about the way he writes about himself.

I stumbled across a passage I really liked about how he has to (or at least had to) train his focus and endurance for writing in the same way that he has to train his muscles for running. If he goes for too many days without running his muscles will ‘forget’ the distances he’s previously been able to run and it’ll be harder for him to run for a long duration. He compares this to needing to write often:

Fortunately, these two disciplines—focus and endurance—are different from talent, since they can be acquired and sharpened through training. You’ll naturally learn both concentration and endurance when you sit down every day at your desk and train yourself to focus on one point. You have to continually transmit the object of your focus to your entire body, and make sure it thoroughly assimilates the information necessary for you to write every single day and concentrate on the work at hand. And gradually you’ll expand the limits of what you’re able to do. Almost imperceptibly you’ll make the bar rise.

When I was writing 30-minutes of new music for Soundscapes Radio every month, I could feel my creative muscles sharpening. If you listen to episode one and episode sixteen side by side you can hear a stark difference in the production and the way I composed. The simple act of writing and composing almost every day allowed me to push what I was able to do.

Unfortunately, when you stop creating consistently, it can be easy to slip out of the habit. Similar to when you skip a few sessions at the gym. It can be hard to get back into a good routine. I was starting to feel something like that low creative energy before I took this recent trip to Japan. But being in Japan never ceases to give me so much inspiration and I will be sure to use that to rekindle my creativity.

When I get back to London I’ll be starting work on two new substantial pieces of music. The first will be an accompaniment to the digital version of the Wander the Night Japan album. A track that signifies motion and the movement between two places or two states of being. The second will be an exercise in stillness. Creating music that carpets and envelops a space; in a way not unlike moss.


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