“WTF is this guy on about?” I hear you ask.

Well, last week I got my hardback copy of “The Creative Act: A Way Of Being” by Rick Rubin sent through to me via Amazon and I couldn’t be more pleased.

I had known of Rubin through him being one of the founders of seminal Hip Hop label Def Jam as well as his music production exploits with artists such as Run DMC, LL Cool J, Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys.

However, it was when he produced the Johnny Cash version of “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails for Cash’s last album, that I really started to take notice of the genius that is Rick Rubin.

This song never fails in reducing me to tears

In terms of sheer inventiveness and depth of musical vision I put Rubin up in my top three producers alongside Trevor Horn and Brian Eno.

Anyways, I found a lot of videos on YouTube singing praises about Rubin’s book that I just had to check out and in doing so I discovered two things that astounded me…

First of all he’s practised meditation since he was 14 years old and secondly (and most importantly) his views on creativity and the process that surrounds it is very similar to my views and it’s because of this that I just had to acquire his book.

Many years ago I purchased “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron and really gravitated towards her concept of the morning pages which is writing (at least) three A4 sized pages of stream of consciousness thinking every morning.

This eventually morphed into my daily journal writing ritual.

For me, The Artist’s Way was a big influence on my life at the time and I know that The Creative Act: A Way Of Being will become just as influential or even more so. I can’t wait to get my highlighter pen out and really start getting into the pages.

I’ll be sharing with all of you what I learn and discover through this blog so watch this space.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

Picture yourself in the vastness of space, surrounded by twinkling stars and silently orbiting planets. There you are, alone, observing the universe.

This idea is more than mere fancy; it’s a meaningful reflection on our existence. We each have a unique spot in the observable universe, effectively making us the centres of our own universes. But what does this mean for us as individuals? How does it influence our view of the world and our role in it?

Understanding Our Place in the Universe

At first, it might seem self-centred to say we’re each at the universe’s centre. However, if we consider the universe’s vast and ever-expanding nature, any point, including where we stand, can be seen as a centre. This isn’t just a physical reality but also a metaphorical one, reflecting our personal experiences and perceptions.

From my viewpoint, my experiences, joys, and challenges revolve around me. The same is true for you – your life orbits around your thoughts, dreams, and realities. This isn’t self-centredness; it’s a fact of our individual perspectives. We each experience life through our lens, placing us at the centre of our stories.

However, this central position doesn’t suggest we’re more important than others. Realising this helps us see ourselves differently. We are central, but so is everyone else in their lives. This thought fosters humility and connection with others, as we recognise that everyone is living a life as rich and complex as ours.

The Philosophical Implications

Being at the centre of our own universe has significant philosophical implications. It makes us question our perceptions of ourselves and others.

On a personal level, this understanding can be empowering and humbling. It acknowledges our role in shaping our experiences, yet reminds us that this is a universal truth, shared by everyone we meet.

In my life, I’ve realised that recognising my centrality doesn’t make me superior to others. It’s a common human experience, a shared reality that connects us all. This is key to avoiding egocentrism.

While it’s natural to view our lives as the main story, recognising others as central to their narratives fosters empathy and compassion. This shift in perspective has profound implications for our interactions with the world. It encourages us to approach others with understanding, acknowledging that they, too, are navigating their central universe.

The Illusion of Hierarchy in Centrality

There’s a misconception that being central to our universe implies a hierarchy of importance. However, I’ve come to see this as an illusion. If we’re all central to our universes, this centrality is shared, not distinguishing. It doesn’t raise any of us above the rest; rather, it places us all on an equal footing.

In my life, this has been freeing. It has helped me step away from competing to prove my worth over others. Understanding our equal centrality removes the need for such comparisons. In a sky full of stars, each star is central in its right, yet no single star dominates.

This perspective changes how we view our relationships. Instead of seeing life as a race for significance, we can appreciate each person’s unique centrality. This doesn’t lessen our value but adds richness to our understanding of the human experience. We’re all stars in the universe, shining in our way, yet part of a magnificent whole.

Equality in Centrality: A Humbling Concept

Embracing our roles as centres of our universes leads to a humbling conclusion: our equal importance. This concept of equality in centrality is enlightening and grounding. For me, it has been a journey towards humility and a deeper appreciation of others.

It’s easy to think our central position makes our experiences more significant than others. But in reality, everyone around us experiences life with the same intensity and centrality. This invites us to live with more compassion and empathy.

When I consider this, I’m reminded of the countless stories unfolding around me. Each person I meet, each life that intersects with mine, is a universe in itself. Acknowledging this doesn’t lessen my experiences but deepens my connections.

This understanding teaches us to value each narrative and encourages us to listen, understand, and appreciate the diverse tapestry of human experiences. It’s a reminder that while we are authors of our stories, we are also part of a larger, interconnected narrative.

Personal Reflections and Experiences

In my life, understanding my position as the centre of my universe has been both a journey of self-discovery and a path to connecting with others. I’ve had moments of feeling like the protagonist in life’s grand story, only to realise that everyone around me is living their version of this story. This has been both humbling and liberating.

There have been times when I felt my issues were the world’s most significant. But seeing others as central to their universes shifted my perspective. I began to see that my challenges, while important to me, are just one part of the vast human experience. This didn’t make my problems smaller; it made my world bigger.

This perspective has changed my interactions, making conversations more about understanding than being understood. Each person I meet adds a new chapter to my understanding of the world.

This journey towards recognising my centrality and the centrality of others has been profound. It has taught me to appreciate my journey’s uniqueness while valuing those around me. It’s a balance between recognising my significance and understanding that I’m part of a larger, interconnected community.

My Conclusion

Viewing ourselves as centres of our universes is a concept rich with implications. It challenges us to think deeply about our place in the world and our relationships with others. This realisation has guided me towards a more empathetic and connected way of living.

Understanding that we are all equally central doesn’t diminish our importance; it enhances our appreciation for the shared human experience. It encourages us to view each person’s life as a unique story, deserving respect and understanding. This perspective is not about diminishing ourselves but about recognising the value in everyone.

As you go about your day, consider this concept. How does acknowledging your centrality, along with everyone else’s, alter your view of your interactions and experiences? How can this understanding impact your relationships and life approach?

Have you ever considered your place in the universe in this way? How has this perspective influenced your view of yourself and others? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this subject. Let me know what you think.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

Call me old fashioned but I still prefer writing songs with a pen to paper rather than to use a computer.

There have been many times where I’ve attempted to use a computer keyboard and word processor instead of pen and paper to jot down my songwriting ideas and I’ve found that each time the special feeling of continuity I get between head, heart and computer screen is not as intense as the organic scrawling of a really good quality pen onto paper.

It’s like the act of putting pen to paper somehow allows me to become an integral part of what I’m writing whereas I feel an uncomfortable distance from my songwriting ideas if I just type it out.

Yes, I know that for this very post to exist I would’ve had to have typed the words into a word processor or directly into the WYSIWYG editor in my blogging platform of choice, WordPress however, this particular post was written on paper first.

I got the idea for this post from automatically and randomly writing on pieces of paper as a means of clearing my mind of the stuff that has collected in it over time. A bit of mental cleaning as it were and some indication that automatic writing works.

I’m a big fan of technology but at the same time I’d hate to see the art of writing a song with a pen and paper disappear for good.

What do you think? Which medium do you prefer to write songs with? Pen and paper or keyboard and word processor?

Peace,

Corey 🙂

Below is the complete version of “An Incomplete Manifesto For Growth” as mentioned in my last blog post “Some Creative Suggestions For Your Songwriting Process.”

This manifesto was conceived in 1998 by Bruce Mau, the creative director of Bruce Mau Design. The purpose of the manifesto is explained on his website in the following way:

“Written in 1998, the Incomplete Manifesto is an articulation of statements exemplifying Bruce Mau’s beliefs, strategies and motivations. Collectively, they are how we approach every project.”

From what I have seen, Bruce Mau and his team certainly know what they’re talking about and from reading his manifesto below I can see how the creative process of design and writing songs can come from exactly the same place.

The muse is a multi-talented entity indeed…


An Incomplete Manifesto For Growth
By Bruce Mau

1. Allow events to change you.
You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it.

The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.

2. Forget about good.
Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good.

Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.

3. Process is more important than outcome.
When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.

4. Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child).
Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.

5. Go deep.
The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.

6. Capture accidents.
The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.

7. Study.
A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.

8. Drift.
Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.

9. Begin anywhere.
John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.

10. Everyone is a leader.
Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.

11. Harvest ideas.
Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.

12. Keep moving.
The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.

13. Slow down.
Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.

14. Don’t be cool.
Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.

15. Ask stupid questions.
Growth is fueled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.

16. Collaborate.
The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.

17. ____________________.
Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others.

18. Stay up late.
Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world.

19. Work the metaphor.
Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.

20. Be careful to take risks.
Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.

21. Repeat yourself.
If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it again.

22. Make your own tools.
Hybridize your tools in order to build unique things. Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.

23. Stand on someone’s shoulders.
You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.

24. Avoid software.
The problem with software is that everyone has it.

25. Don’t clean your desk.
You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.

26. Don’t enter awards competitions.
Just don’t. It’s not good for you.

27. Read only left-hand pages.
Marshall McLuhan did this. By decreasing the amount of information, we leave room for what he called our “noodle.”

28. Make new words.
Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.

29. Think with your mind.
Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.

30. Organization = Liberty.
Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget.

The myth of a split between “creatives” and “suits” is what Leonard Cohen calls a ‘charming artifact of the past.’

31. Don’t borrow money.
Once again, Frank Gehry’s advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.

32. Listen carefully.
Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.

33. Take field trips.
The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic–simulated environment.

34. Make mistakes faster.
This isn’t my idea – I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.

35. Imitate.
Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You’ll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable. We have only to look to Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel Duchamp’s large glass to see how rich, discredited, and underused imitation is as a technique.

36. Scat.
When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else … but not words.

37. Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.

38. Explore the other edge.
Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using old-tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.

39. Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms.
Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces – what Dr. Seuss calls “the waiting place.”

Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference – the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals — but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.

40. Avoid fields.
Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.

41. Laugh.
People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I’ve become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing ourselves.

42. Remember.
Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect.

Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself.

43. Power to the people.
Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can’t be free agents if we’re not free.


Wow!

Even though Bruce Mau and his team approach every new design project using these strategies and philosophies, I truly believe that the process of songwriting (indeed every creative endeavour) can be looked at in the very same way.

I don’t know about you but right now, I’m feeling truly inspired. Are you? Which points in the manifesto resonate with you? Let me know about it.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

One of my favourite songwriting websites that I visit regularly and I’m a proud member of is called TAXI.

Apart from the songwriting A&R services they provide for their members, I really like the articles and helpful tips that they provide on the site as well.

One of these articles that I recently came across was by a songwriter named Michael Anderson called “Creative Suggestions”

The article is essentially a huge list of wisdom to help expand your songwriting process and at the same time, enrich you as a songwriter which is just the very thing that I’m trying to achieve with Corey Stewart Online.

Anyways, I’ve included the article below for your enjoyment…


Creative Suggestions
By Michael Anderson

(Originally Published in TAXI – July 2008)

One of the great things I have found about teaching is how much you end up learning. The best way to learn about something is to help someone else do it.

As part of my teaching, recently I interviewed a guest, Paula McMath, who came in with amazing material prepared for the class.

I am going to share excerpts of one section here — it comes form a handout she gave the class called “An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth.”

I don’t know where it came from, or who wrote it — and I am editing it for focus and length here. If you are so motivated, I am sure you can find the whole thing on the Internet somewhere.

So here are some suggestions for your process in writing:

  • Allow events to change you. You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it.
  • The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.
  • Forget about good. Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on.
  • Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.
  • Process is more important than outcome. When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been.
  • Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child). Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, trials, and errors.
  • Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.
  • Capture accidents. The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question.
  • Study. A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study.
  • Drift. Allow yourself to wander aimlessly Postpone criticism.
  • Begin anywhere. John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice – begin anywhere.
  • Everyone is a leader. Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.
  • Harvest ideas – edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.
  • Keep moving. The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.
  • Slow down. Desynchronise from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.
  • Don’t be cool. Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.
  • Ask stupid questions. Growth is fueled by desire and innocence.
  • Collaborate. The space between people working together is filled with strife, friction, exhilaration, delight, and creative potential.
  • Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others.
  • Stay up late. Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world.
  • Work the metaphor. Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.
  • Be careful to take risks. Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.
  • Make your own tools. Hybridise your tools in order to build unique things.
  • Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.
  • Stand on someone’s shoulders. You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.
  • Avoid software. The problem with software is that everyone has it.
  • Don’t clean your desk. You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.
  • Don’t enter awards competitions. Just don’t. It’s not good for you.
  • Make new words. Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.
  • Think with your mind. Forget technology. Creativity is not device dependent.
  • Organization = Liberty. Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise.
  • Don’t borrow money. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.
  • Listen carefully. Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.
  • Take field trips. The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic-simulated environment.
  • Make mistakes faster.
  • Imitate. Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You’ll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable.
  • Scat. When you forget the words, do what Ella did—make up something else.
  • Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.

Excerpted from Michael Anderson’s Little Black Book of Songwriting available at: www.michaelanderson.com

Need a to get your Songs to Record LabelsPublishers or Major Artists? Then check out TAXI: The World’s Leading Independent A&R Company, helping bands, artists and Songwriters get signed.

Now that is what I call an amazing list of creative suggestions to think about.

Reading this article reaffirms my thoughts, feelings and theories of the importance of having a songwriting process. I’m certainly going to look up “An Incomplete Manifesto For Growth” and really get my head around what it means.

Incidentally, what points took your fancy? Let me know what you think.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

For a long time I thought about how the songwriting process and the teachings of Buddhism are remarkably similar and could intersect in the middle somehow, so I thought why not explore the concept a little further and therefore, in this post, I explore the similarities between songwriting and Zen. 

While one is an ancient philosophy and the other a modern creative pursuit, they share common principles like mindfulness, simplicity, and self-awareness. 

My goal with this is not to turn songwriters into Zen masters, but rather it’s to uncover the shared lessons between these two paths to enhance creativity and depth in songwriting. 

  1. Impermanence In Songwriting

Impermanence, a key Zen principle, plays a significant role in songwriting. In my experience, a song is like a snapshot of fleeting emotions and moments, much like life’s transient nature. 

Writing a song is an exercise in embracing change – melodies evolve, lyrics transform, and initial ideas often take new shapes. This mirrors life’s impermanence, which teaches me to appreciate the beauty in change and to let go of the quest for perfection.

  1. Mindfulness In The Creative Process

In songwriting, mindfulness means being fully present with my emotions, thoughts, and experiences. It’s about observing the world with attention and translating those observations into music. This process requires a heightened awareness, akin to the mindfulness practised in Zen. 

For me, it’s less about forcing creativity and more about letting it flow naturally, being open to where the song wants to go.

  1. Simplicity And Essence

Zen teaches the beauty of simplicity, a lesson that’s valuable in songwriting too. I’ve found that the power of a song often lies in its ability to convey a message or emotion clearly and directly. In my songwriting, I always try to focus on the essence of what I want to express, stripping away the non-essential to reveal the song’s true heart.

  1. Self-Expression And Self-Understanding

Zen’s journey towards self-understanding mirrors my process of songwriting. Each song is a step in my journey of self-discovery, helping me express and understand my own emotions and experiences. This introspective process is not just about creating music but it’s also about learning more about myself and where I am placed in the world.

  1. Non-Attachment In Creative Evolution

Non-attachment, a crucial Zen principle, is essential in songwriting. Over time, I’ve learned not to cling too tightly to initial ideas or emotions in my songs. Being open to change and letting the song evolve naturally leads to more authentic and resonant music which reflects my acceptance of life’s ever-changing nature.

  1. Embracing The Void

In Zen, ‘Emptiness’ or ‘the Void’ signifies potential and space. In songwriting, it teaches me the power of silence and space. Not every moment in a song needs to be filled with sound.

Silence can be as expressive as notes and lyrics, giving the listener space to absorb and reflect. As Robert Fripp once famously said…

“Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence.”

  1. Direct Experience And Authenticity

Zen values direct experience, and in songwriting, this translates to authenticity. I feel that my songs are at their most powerful when they’re true to and aligned with my experiences and emotions. 

This authenticity makes my music relatable and powerful, connecting my personal stories to universal themes.

  1. Beginner’s Mind And Innovation

For me, adopting a ‘Beginner’s Mind’ in songwriting means approaching each new project without preconceptions. This mindset encourages me to experiment and innovate, keeping my approach fresh and open to new possibilities. It’s all about maintaining a sense of curiosity and playfulness in my creative process.

  1. Meditative Aspects Of Songwriting

I’ve always maintained that the craft of songwriting is a meditative practice. When I’m deeply immersed in the songwriting process or in the zone when performing on stage, I enter a state of flow similar to meditation. 

This focused and absorbed state aids in tapping into deeper levels of creativity and self-expression, much like the introspective and calming effects of meditation.

  1. The Interconnectedness Of All Things

In songwriting, I see the interconnectedness of all elements – lyrics, melody, rhythm, and the audience. Each component interacts with the others, creating a cohesive whole. This interconnectedness extends to the relationship between me, my music, and my listeners, forming a shared experience that reflects the interconnected nature of our lives.

In exploring the parallels between songwriting and Zen, I find a profound connection between these two seemingly distinct practices. The principles of Zen – such as mindfulness, simplicity, non-attachment, and interconnectedness – are not just abstract concepts but can be actively experienced in the creative process of songwriting.

Songwriting, much like the practice of Zen, is a path to deeper understanding and expression. It’s a medium through which we can explore and express our innermost thoughts, emotions, and experiences and by embracing the principles of Zen in songwriting, we open ourselves to a world of creativity that is not only artistically fulfilling but also personally enlightening.

What do you think? Can you see the parallels between the songwriting process and Zen Buddhism? How do you approach your own songwriting process?

No matter how we look at it, all roads lead us to a song.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

As a songwriter, musician, producer and blogger, I’ve slowly come to appreciate a powerful mantra: “Done is better than perfect.”

This simple yet very profound phrase has become a guiding principle in my creative journey over time. It reminds me that striving for perfection through music will often lead to a cycle of endless revisions and, ironically, stifling the very creativity it seeks to perfect.

For me, “done is better than perfect” can be best integrated into the 4 main activities of a music artist…

  • Writing music
  • Recording music
  • Performing music
  • Promoting music

Below are some observations that I have made in my attempts to better integrate the “done is better than perfect” philosophy into my music career and as an extension to this, my life in general.

Writing Music

One of the things I learned pretty quickly in all my years writing songs is that the first casualty of perfectionism is often creativity itself.

Writing music, at its core, is an expression of emotion and the desire to communicate but when we focus too hard on making every line, every chord perfect, we risk losing the soul of the song.

The Pitfalls of Perfectionism

There would be many times when I’d sit for hours, agonizing over a single lyric or a melody line, trying to make it ‘perfect.’ More often than not, this pursuit led to frustration and creative blocks.

The truth is, perfectionism can be paralyzing. It’s a trap that makes you second-guess every creative impulse, leading to a cycle of endless revisions. The raw, initial emotion that sparked the song often gets lost in this process.

Creativity Through Completion

Embracing the concept of ‘done is better than perfect’ was an absolute game-changer for me. It meant allowing myself to write freely, without the burden of judgment or the fear of imperfection.

This approach doesn’t mean settling for mediocrity; rather, it’s about recognizing the point at which the song serves its purpose – to convey emotion, tell a story, or capture a moment.

Finishing a song, even if it’s not flawless, has been incredibly liberating. It has allowed me to create a more diverse array of music, experimenting with different styles and themes.

More importantly, it has helped me grow as an artist. Each completed song is a step forward, a learning experience that builds my skills and confidence.

At the end of the day I’ve found that embracing imperfection can lead to a more prolific creative process. It’s all about capturing the essence of the emotion or story you’re telling, and sometimes, that essence is most powerfully conveyed in its most natural, unpolished form.

Recording Music

For me, the environment where the “done is better than perfect” philosophy makes the most sense and works the best is in the recording studio.

My experiences in the recording studio have taught me invaluable lessons about the balance between artistic integrity and the practical realities of finishing songs and this is where the philosophy comes into play.

Balancing Efficiency and Perfection

I’ve always found the process of recording music a fascinating one. There’s a magic in capturing a song, a moment in time, yet it’s easy to get lost in the pursuit of the ‘perfect take.’

In the early days of recording my music (before I learnt how to do it myself), I’d spend a long time in the studio, trying to get every note, every inflection just right. I eventually realized that this pursuit was not only exhausting but also financially draining because as they say… Time is money.

The turning point came when I started focusing on efficiency over perfection. This didn’t mean compromising the quality of the recordings; rather, it meant recognizing the point where the essence of the song was captured authentically.

Sometimes, the imperfections – a slight rasp in the voice, a minor variation in rhythm – added a unique character to the track that ‘perfection’ would have polished away forever.

The Charm of Authenticity

There’s an undeniable charm in recordings that aren’t overly sanitized. They carry an authenticity, an emotional rawness that can be really moving. I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty in the ‘flaws’ – they make a recording feel real, relatable.

I call them “happy accidents.”

My favorite takes are the ones where the emotions were palpable, where the urgency or tenderness of the performance was front and center. These moments might not have been technically perfect, but they captured the heart of the song.

I’m sure that these takes will resonate with listeners in a way that a ‘perfect’ but soulless take never could. This approach has not only made the recording process more enjoyable but has also helped me create music that truly connects with people.

Performing Music

Even though I have a love/hate relationship with live performance at times, stepping onto the stage has for most of the time been a thrilling yet daunting experience for me.

Over time, I’ve come to understand that perfection in live performance is not just elusive; it’s also not necessarily the most important goal.

Reducing Performance Anxiety

When I started my musical journey, the fear of making mistakes was overwhelming. I believed that a perfect performance was the only way to prove my worth as an artist (you know the drill… If I’m a good musician then I will be more liked as a person). This mindset, however, only served to heighten my anxiety and, ironically, made mistakes more likely.

I learnt fairly early on that embracing the idea that ‘done is better than perfect’ would transform my approach to performing.

It allowed me to step on stage with a mindset focused on sharing the music, not on avoiding errors. This shift was liberating.

I’d like to think that by embracing the philosophy my performances became more about connecting with the audience, conveying the emotions of the songs, and enjoying the moment of the performance itself.

Over time the pressure to be flawless subsided, and in its place, a love for the live performance emerged.

The Growth in Regular Performance

Another revelation came with the understanding that regular performance, regardless of perfection, is a path to growth. Each time I performed, I learned something new – about the music I was performing, my audience, and myself.

I began to see imperfections not as failures, but as opportunities to improve and evolve.

This philosophy also opened me up to more opportunities. Instead of waiting for the ‘perfect’ gig or the ‘right’ moment, I had started saying yes to a variety of performance opportunities. This not only honed my skills and built my confidence but also broadened my audience reach.

But be careful, don’t do what I did and burn yourself out. You need to temper the enthusiasm with periodical reality checks.

In a live performance setting what truly matters is the connection with the audience, the expression of emotion, and the joy of sharing the art.

Embracing imperfection in this context doesn’t mean settling for mediocrity; it means celebrating the human, relatable aspects of live performance.

Promoting Music

The world of the new music industry and especially the ever changing environment of (online) music promotion has been an eye-opener for me. In this digital age, where content is rapidly consumed and trends change in the blink of an eye, I’ve learned that the principle of ‘done is better than perfect’ is especially relevant.

The Importance of Timely Releases

I’ve only released one CD “Seeing Stars” way back in 2012 so the irony of talking about timely releases is not lost on me however, from what I’ve learnt through my research is that writing, recording and releasing often is the way to go.

I used to think that if only I had “this opportunity and/or that piece of gear” then everything would work out fine. If only I had all of my ducks in a row then I could move forward with my music career

However, this quest for perfection often led to delays, causing me to miss out on the very opportunities that would move my career forward..

I had realized that the music industry moves at a lightning-fast pace. Waiting for everything to be perfect can mean missing the window of relevance, especially in a world where audiences are constantly looking for new content.

Learning to balance quality with timeliness was crucial. I began to refocus on ensuring that my music and promotional materials were good and resonated with my brand, rather than perfect.

This is still going and is by no means finished but this shift helped me to release music and promotional content more regularly, keeping me relevant and engaged with my community.

Building a Discography and Maintaining Relevance

Another important aspect I learned is the value of building a body of work, a discography. In the past, I might have held back on releasing music, waiting for it to be ‘perfect.’ But I came to understand that each and every time I shared new music, it contributes to the bigger picture of my artistic journey.

This is particularly relevant when it comes to my involvement with the FAWM and 5090 Online Songwriting Challenges.

Through participating in these challenges which involves releasing music demos consistently through a platform like SoundCloud, even if it’s not flawless, has helped me build a more substantial body of work that I can look back on and be proud of.

This has not only aided in keeping my creativity engaged but has also attracted new listeners who find something in the variety of my music.

Now I’ve got to turn my demos into fully releasable songs and the “done is better than perfect” philosophy will help me greatly in achieving this aim because in a rapidly evolving industry, being able to release music and promotional content efficiently and consistently is crucial.

So what does the phrase “done is better than perfect” mean to you? Please let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

Share your experiences where you’ve found ‘done’ to be more fulfilling than ‘perfect.’ Whether it’s a song you wrote, a performance you gave, or a project you completed, let’s celebrate the beauty of imperfection in music.

Together, let’s redefine what success in music looks like, not by the absence of flaws, but by the presence of genuine expression and the courage to share our art with the world.

In the short time that I’ve been in Yankalilla, there has been one thing that has quietly inspired me so much that I had to write about it.

You see, in my backyard stands an old and quite majestic gum tree that has seen a lot over the years. This is a tree that I see every morning and over time it has got me thinking about life, growth, and the challenges we all face.

Here are 12 refections that this tree, with its simple presence, has made me realise…

  1. Growth Over Time:

I certainly wasn’t born when this gum tree was just starting out, but over time, it’s grown taller and stronger, facing challenges but pushing through anyways.

We’re all a lot like that tree. We start with uncertainties, face obstacles, but with time, we learn and grow.

Our experiences shape us, just like the seasons shape the tree. Looking at this tree every day reminds me of our potential to grow and adapt, no matter where we start in life.

  1. Deep Roots:

The gum tree’s strength comes from its roots, which anchor it and draw itself food from the soil. Similarly, our roots (being our background, values, and experiences) give us stability and shape who we are.

These connections might not always be visible, but they influence our decisions and shape our perspectives.

Thinking about the tree’s roots makes me appreciate where I’ve come from and the (sometimes painful) lessons I’ve learned from my past.

  1. Seasonal Changes:

Like all plants, the gum tree changes with the seasons. It grows new leaves in spring, provides shade in summer, sheds in autumn, and stands resilient in winter. We experience similar phases in life, with periods of growth, challenges, change, and reflection.

Observing the tree’s seasonal cycle reminds me that life will always have its ups and downs, but each phase has its value and lessons.

  1. Scars and Imperfections:

The gum tree’s bark shows marks and scars from its past. These aren’t flaws but are evidence of its history and resilience. Similarly, our scars, whether physical or emotional, seen and unseen, tell stories of challenges faced and overcome.

Looking at the tree, I’m reminded that it’s okay to have imperfections. They’re all a part of our story and they ultimately make us who we are.

  1. Shelter and Nourishment:

The gum tree offers shade and a home for many animals. It’s a source of protection and sustenance. In our lives, we also seek and provide shelter in various ways, whether it’s emotional support from loved ones or guidance in tough times.

The tree’s role as a protector and provider reminds me of the importance of looking out for others and valuing the support we have and receive.

  1. Interconnectedness:

The gum tree doesn’t exist in isolation. It relies on its environment and, in turn, supports many forms of life. Similarly, we’re all connected in various ways, depending on others and making an impact on those around us.

The tree’s relationship with its surroundings highlights how our actions and decisions affect the larger community.

  1. Endurance:

The gum tree has been standing for many, many years, facing storms, droughts, and other challenges. It’s a testament to resilience and the ability to endure tough times. We all face challenges in life, but it’s about pushing through and coming out stronger.

The tree’s persistence reminds me that with determination, we can overcome obstacles and keep moving forward.

  1. Life and Death:

The gum tree goes through cycles of growth and decline, representing the natural flow of life and death. We all experience beginnings and endings in our lives.

Although I have not been around my tree for long enough, I am aware that observing the tree’s cycles will make me think about the transient nature of life and the importance of valuing every moment.

  1. Silent Witness:

The gum tree has been around for a long time, quietly observing the world change around it. It’s seen many events unfold without making a sound. In our lives, there are times when we observe and reflect without speaking.

The tree’s quiet presence reminds me of the value of taking a step back, watching, and learning from our surroundings.

  1. Natural Beauty:

The gum tree, with its rough bark and wide branches, has a simple yet striking appearance. It doesn’t need to be perfect to be beautiful. Similarly, real beauty isn’t about perfection; it’s about being genuine and embracing our true selves.

The tree’s unpolished look reminds me that authenticity is more valuable than any idealised standard of beauty.

  1. Adaptation:

The gum tree adjusts to its environment, whether it’s facing drought or abundant rain. It finds ways to survive and thrive. We, too, face changes and challenges in life.

The tree’s ability to adapt reminds me of the importance of being flexible and adjusting to new situations, ensuring we make the best of whatever comes our way.

  1. Legacy:

The gum tree drops seeds that have the potential to grow into new trees. It’s a way of ensuring its impact lasts beyond its lifetime. Similarly, our actions and decisions leave an imprint on the world and the people around us.

This tree’s ongoing influence makes me think about the lasting impact we can have and the importance of the mark we leave behind.

For me, the gum tree in my backyard is more than just a tree. It’s a poignant symbol of life itself, from growth and change to endurance and legacy.

Personally, its presence has offered me valuable insights into navigating life’s complexities. It reminds me to stay grounded, adapt to challenges, and consider the impact I leave on the world.

I think we all can take a leaf (pardon the pun) out of the lessons that my gum tree can impart. What do you think?

Peace,

Corey 🙂

In my last post Moving Through The Dark Room Of Grief I described how it felt for me to be in the throes of profound and uncontrollable sadness likening it to walking into a dark and scary room and not finding your way out of it. 

The post was very hard to write but it was something I felt that I needed to write as this was what I was going through at the time and it was my hope that writing about it would allow me to find my way out.

Since then, I have been taking some small (but very important) steps to see myself clear of the darkness and it’s those steps that have enabled me to find the door that leads to the other side. I am now walking through the door and into the light.

The first step was to get professional help. Simple as that

Friends and family are wonderful to talk to because they will always listen and offer their advice, but there is nothing more powerful than dumping your emotional stuff onto someone who doesn’t know you from a bar of soap and in return, they offer fresh new perspectives, insights and objectivity on the very stuff that has been swimming around inside your head.

The second step was to re-establish some routines in my life.

I know I have written about it before but I’m always amazed how easy it is to let my guard down and allow myself to slip into bad habits again, like living on autopilot, not getting enough sleep, not exercising, not writing.

It’s like I have an internal map to the path of less resistance in my life and through not being careful and vigilant, I find myself back on that path time and time again, without me even realising it.

For me, routines are designed to stop the constant merry-go-round of being in and not being in the driver’s seat of my life that I find myself in. They act as an anchor that grounds me, that sets up my day right, that allows myself to “be” on purpose, not by accident.

My routines are still being developed and refined (as they will always be a work in progress) but over the last month I am sleeping better and feeling stronger mentally and physically.

The third step was to start writing about it again.

When I initially paused and reflected on my adventures in the dark room, I realised that I wasn’t writing anymore. 

I had stopped my daily journal, I had stopped my blogging, I had in fact stopped all forms of taking what is swimming around in my head and recreating it external from my person so I can have some distance and therefore a fresher perspective on what is going on.

All of this has shown me how important the act of writing is to me. Whether the outcome is songs, blogs, private journal entries or everything in between, writing everything down is essential to my existence

Writing helps me to make sense of it all. Most importantly, it helps me to examine what it means to be me.

Right now I feel like I’m on a path of rediscovery. I’m going over old ground but with a fresh set of eyes and ears which in turn changes my perspective towards the positive and as I now walk through the door and into the light on the other side of the darkness, I remind myself that the smallest of changes can make the biggest of differences.

All I’ve got to do is put one foot in front of the other (hmmm, I reckon there’s a song in that).

Peace,

Corey 🙂

Be yourself. Everyone else is taken

Oscar Wilde

Did you know that YOU are the only YOU that exists right now? Did you also know that YOU are the only YOU that has ever existed and will ever exist?

Think about that for just a moment…

This means that from the time the universe came into being 13.8 billion years ago until the last supermassive black hole has evaporated (in about 10^100 years) there will only ever be one of YOU.

Very recently the Earth’s population surpassed 8 billion people and out of all those people, only one of them is YOU.

Did you know that the number of people that have ever existed on this planet since the dawn of human history is estimated to be around 117 billion but still, out of all those people, only one of them is YOU.

To put things into a greater perspective, it is said that the odds of YOU being created as uniquely YOU (and not your siblings, if you have any) via your parents’ egg and sperm joining together is a staggering 1 in 400 quadrillion (that’s 400,000,000,000,000,000,000).

To expand this even further, as YOU represent an unbroken lineage of around 150K generations that go all the way back to single celled organisms, the odds of 150K generations of successful fertilisation to ensure that YOU exist right now is a staggering 1 in 10^2,685,000 (10 followed by 2,685,000 zeros)

That’s not bad considering that the estimated number of atoms in the universe is around 10^80 atoms. When you think about it… YOU are the greatest miracle that exists today.

So, what does this all mean? 

Well, it means that if YOU are the only YOU that exists, has ever existed and will ever exist then, everything that makes up YOU, being your experiences, your childhood, the different environments you’ve lived in and the choices that you’ve made, will be completely and uniquely YOU.

This also means that your perspectives on life, your thoughts and feelings, your values and judgements, your views of the world and what you create from all of that will also be completely and uniquely YOU.

So think about that the next time you stare at the blank piece of paper before you start writing or, the blank canvas before you start painting or, a random lump of clay before you start sculpting or, an empty DAW before you start recording because YOU are the originality of your songs, painting, writing, sculpture or anything that you create and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Peace,

Corey 🙂