Every Idea Is a Good Idea: Be Creative Anytime, Anywhere

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9780399166037: Every Idea Is a Good Idea: Be Creative Anytime, Anywhere

Access a level of creativity you never thought possible, using techniques Tom Sturges—former head of creative at Universal Music Publishing Group—learned in his 25-plus years in the music industry.

 

Everyone is innately creative. But many of us—especially those trying to develop careers in music and the arts—wish we knew how to better tap into our creative potential. Is there a way to more easily connect with the part of our minds that knows how to complete a song, finish a poem, or solve a problem?

Music industry veteran Tom Sturges argues that there is. Sturges—who, in his 25-plus-year career, has worked with artists including Carole King, Paul Simon, Elton John, Neil Young, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins and Outkast—has developed dependable techniques to help you recognize and harness your own creative power, whenever and wherever you need it Get insight and knowledge of the creative process from Sir Paul McCartney and other. . Every Idea Is a Good Idea invites readers to find the pathway to their own creative endeavors.
 

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About the Author:

Tom Sturges is the president of Tom Sturges Music and was formerly executive vice president and head of creative for Universal Music Publishing Group. He works as a coach, mentor, and teacher of at-risk children at an inner-city Los Angeles public school. He is the son of the Academy Award winning writer/director Preston Sturges.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

FOREWORD

All the creative people that I know have to work hard to achieve their goals. Okay, everyone has a good idea from time to time, but do they follow it through?

It needs inventiveness and hard work, and this book is an extraordinary examination of the whole process of creativity, something within the capability of everyone.

—Sir George Martin

PREFACE

To dissect, study, teach, and analyze the creative process takes enormous insight and balls. I personally was thrust into the creative process by accident and luck. Having just become head of Columbia Records—straight from being the chief lawyer for the company—I had no idea I could be “creative,” no idea I could have “ears,” no idea that the world of music could unleash a passion of creativity that exhilarates me to this day. And when, in interviews, I’m asked how I discovered the artists I’ve signed or the songs I’ve chosen for artists to record, I usually shrug my shoulders and say it was a natural, undiscovered, unknown “gift.” But was it? Well, after reading this very enlightening book by Tom Sturges, he challenges that notion for me; but more important, challenges that notion for what I hope is a vast multitude out there who want to explore whether they are creative or whether they can be creative. And he does it with color, with recalled experiences, with candor, with entertaining stories and anecdotes that entrance and fascinate the reader. I know that after reading this book there will be countless revelations and confessions from those who were stimulated and motivated to look deeply within and alter the course of their career or their life.

—Clive Davis

INTRODUCTION

I have been part of the music business for more than twenty-five years, most of that time as a music publisher. I was executive vice president and head of Creative for Universal Music Publishing Group. I was president of Chrysalis Music Publishing Group. I was a song plugger and talent scout for Screen Gems–EMI Music Publishing, and started as a professional manager for Arista Music Publishing.

I can recognize talent in others and I can hear a hit song. I see what writers and artists are going to become as much as see who they are sitting in front of me, with the only evidence that matters being their songwriting ability. More than two hundred writers signed music publishing deals to companies I worked for, and many of them achieved lasting worldwide success. Among these were Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins, Outkast and Goodie Mob, 50 Cent and G-Unit, 3 Doors Down, both Antonina Armato and Tim James of Rock Mafia, Slaughter, Green Jelly, Chris Brown, and Jack Johnson. I also signed Foo Fighters and Blink-182; writer/producers Troy Taylor, Mark Batson, and Jason Epperson (aka Jay E); and rapper and champion basketball player Shaquille O’Neal. I acquired rights for several writer/artists who had only one defining hit in their careers, including Baby Bash (“Suga Suga”), Vanessa Carlton (“A Thousand Miles”), Afroman (“Because I Got High”), Montell Jordan (“This Is How We Do It”), Katrina and the Waves (“Walking on Sunshine”), and Owl City (“Fireflies”).

I was also a song plugger and placed more than eighty songs. A song plugger finds a song its home by pitching it to the right artist for a recording. I gave Huey Lewis and the News their breakout single “Heart and Soul,” and Pat Benatar her worldwide hit “We Belong.” Aretha Franklin and George Michael got “I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me)” and won a Grammy for it, while Celine Dion took “Think Twice” to the top of the UK charts and won an Ivor Novello Award for Song of the Year for writers Andy Hill and Pete Sinfield. I suggested Mariah Carey record “I Still Believe” for her Greatest Hits album. She had sung backup on the original recording with Brenda K. Starr many years before, so maybe that was a no-brainer. In total, the writers I signed have sold more than 175 million albums, over 26 million singles, and more than 18 million downloads, written fourteen #1 singles, and won twelve Grammy Awards. So far. There is still more to come.

At various times I was also point person for Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, Prince, Carole King, Billy Idol, Beastie Boys, Sinead O’Connor, Jethro Tull, and U2, but had nothing to do with their discovery or signing.

Being surrounded by all this talent gave me a rare opportunity to learn about the creative process, because I was right there. As it happened, I watched, I listened, and I learned. I took notes and asked questions. Anytime any of the writers or artists who have graced my life began to start on something, I paid attention. I never knew I would write a book about it, but I found myself in a place of such trust and closeness within their lives that I could not help but inhale. I have observed creative genius unfettered and unfolding in its natural habitat . . . over and over and over again, for years. How many people can say that?

Does that make me an expert in creativity? Is there even such a thing? I would rather be considered a patient observer of the art, a collector of its techniques, its likelihood and promise, someone who has grown familiar with creativity’s nuances and possibilities.

And here’s what I’ve come to believe. Creativity is a gift, from life to us. It exists in varying degrees, measures, and amounts in each of us, but we all have it inside. There is as much creativity in our lives as we allow there to be. On this point, Maya Angelou said you can’t use up creativity because “the more you use, the more you have.” Creativity is a reliable source of our self-respect, innovative power, and intellectual achievement. Tapping into this force—whether to paint an oil painting, write music, design a home, shape an advertising campaign, or discover the cure for cancer—this is when we are most human. Coincidentally, this is also when we are at our most vulnerable, most likely because the tenderness of our new ideas makes us so. While not everyone can paint or sculpt, write a symphony, or imagine a building, creativity can become a greater part of any life, enriching and ennobling it in many different ways.

The physical process of creativity, regardless of the field or area in which it is used, is the same process. Regardless of the creative challenge we might be faced with, our brains respond the same way, they do the same thing. Neurons signal one another over synapses, often millions at a time, and spray one another with a substance that serves as an activating mist. This happens no matter what the new thoughts are, or what the subjects of those thoughts are. The spray, most often glutamate, serotonin, dopamine, or acetylcholine, is like an idea lubricant, and we all get plenty to work with. If you are a chef nuancing a recipe or a fashion designer working on a little black dress, you are utilizing the same brain functions and having the same aha moment as a film composer writing a score or a songwriter finding the perfect chorus. The brain cannot tell the difference. It is a machine functioning as designed. And if that’s all there is to it, why not have more creativity in our lives?

Over the past fourteen years I have introduced more than a thousand public school students in the Los Angeles area to the basics of creativity, as a test of my own belief that creativity can be taught and learned, like English or math, and that it can be practiced and developed, like basketball or golf. I teach them that creativity is a skill.

Some of the students are in Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) programs, while many others are at-risk inner-city students. Some come from amazing circumstances, but many do not. I had an idea that the more creativity these students had in their lives, the better those lives might be, and every class proves it again and again. I introduce the students to the breadth of their creative instinct and provide them with techniques that they can utilize to access it at any time, as much as they want or need to, for the rest of their lives.

The students learn the basics of good creative thinking by learning how great thinkers—including several songwriters and composers—often think. They learn how those people guided and nurtured their own passions and intellects, whether challenged or inspired to do so. The students learn how to expand their own intellectual capacity by understanding how the greatest music makers, such as Mozart and Beethoven, developed and searched their own intellects for ideas and possibilities. By the end of the class, most of the time students are able to see and practically touch their own creative spirit by becoming engaged in the challenges and exercises put before them as part of the process of “learning” creativity.

The classrooms are my laboratory. Teaching the students how to create is the experiment. The songs and lyrics and stories they write are the product. Watching them discover their own instinctive creative humanity, in bursts and flashes of creative thought and outright passion, is joyous proof of the hypothesis that creativity can be taught and learned. For those students who were already creative and in touch with their intellectual instincts, the ability to more readily access those instincts was significantly enhanced.

Seeing this process repeat over and over, for many years, revealed to me the possibility and even the likelihood that anyone and everyone can learn to be more creative—not only students, or younger people, but everyone.

In the pages that follow, many examples, ideas, guidelines, and exercises will be presented to you. Once you begin to understand how some of the greatest creators who have ever lived created, you will begin to better understand how you can create. You will recognize and direct your own creative thought processes better by learning how these geniuses did it when faced with the same dilemmas. With their experiences as your model, you will better understand how to imagine and encourage your own ideas, and how to think, understand, and harness the best of your own creative power. If everything goes according to script, the methods you discover will be available to you whenever and wherever you need them, for the rest of your life.

Imagine being able to understand and manage your own creative process, manipulate its power and capability, and maximize its output, simply because you have the tools to do so. Imagine being able to encourage and harvest your own daydreams and musings, simply because you have found a way to filter out the least valuable ideas and focus only on the gems. Imagine being able to give your mind a creative assignment and have the patience to wait for it to arrive, the result of a clear understanding of the capacity of your own intellect when left to its own devices.

Only a small percentage of people will ever develop the ability to render rooms speechless with their paintings or sculptures or improvised storytelling. Only the tiniest subgroup of people will redefine fashion and couture. Fewer still will write lyrics or melodies to hit songs. But creativity comes in many forms and formulas, not just poetic or artistic gifts. Top-level marketing and advertising companies are very creative places, as are architecture firms. The best trial lawyers and schoolteachers and chefs are highly creative. All of these areas of expertise require constantly innovating thinking if lasting success is to be achieved.

This book is meant to be a toolbox full of possibilities, any one or ten of which might provide you with the guidance and inspiration you need to break through to and engage your creativity more fully. If you can become a more creative thinker, you will be a better problem solver because your mind will give you more options to consider. You will be a better decision maker because you will be able to imagine the future more clearly, and you will be able to better predict the likely results of your choices. You will be a better creator because you will use significantly more of your intellectual capability than you knew how to set free before.

Creativity is the most individual and unique gift you possess. It is what allows you the freedom to be you. But the magic of creativity is different for everyone. So, too, is the journey of creation. The joy of realizing that you can repeat that moment again and again, whenever you need it, will be unspeakably beautiful. With the right tools in the right hands, it is not only possible to achieve greater creativity on a regular and repeatable basis, anywhere and anytime; it is impossible not to achieve it.

As you read on, and new ideas occur to you, write them down, treasure and preserve them, and save them for some future creative project. Let none of them just slip away. Fill in the margins of these pages with your notes and reactions and, hopefully, inspirations. If that does not give you enough room in which to capture your musings, consider a devoted notebook or computer file that fills up as you go along. Summarize in your own words an essay or passage, if it strikes you like that. Try the exercises—they all really do work. Grow more and more aware of the process of your own creativity, the bursts of light and possibility as they take place, the tingle that accompanies new thoughts. Become knowledgeable about when and how you create best, where your new ideas sneak up on you most easily. Mozart wrote that ideas filled his head when he went out for a walk. Where will your creativity find access to you?

Almost every technique to enable creativity that I have ever seen or heard about is somewhere in this book. The same is true for every trick of the trade that I observed about creators. Songwriters are just the starting point—I have sought knowledge and wisdom about creativity from many sources. This brought me to look at the brain, discover who the very first creators were, and then investigate the creative magic of a television writers’ room as a way to better understand group creativity. I also went looking for examples of what Picasso and Michelangelo knew about their creative powers, in addition to what Carole King, Paul Simon, and Marilyn Bergman know about theirs. The processes and methods these creators have already discovered could be the ones you are still looking for.

It has brought me incredible joy to witness the beauty of creativity so many times, in so many different people, under so many different circumstances. My hope is that I successfully convey this to you, and give you a better understanding of how creativity can open a thousand doors in your life, any one of which is your future.

But to hear it knocking, you must know what it is.

1

CREATIVITY: AN OVERVIEW

WHAT IS CREATIVITY?

Many people think of creativity as some glamorous, elegant practice that only certain people get to do, but this is not really so accurate. For Michelangelo, creativity was grabbing a hammer and a chisel and banging on a piece of iron-hard marble for months and months, as he had to do in order to create just one of his masterworks, the David. Creativity was also him building a system of scaffold platforms that stuck out from holes in walls, hundreds of feet in the air, which allowed him to stand and paint with his arms above his head every day for five years to finish the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. He endured paint and dust getting into his eyes, and an angry, impatient pope complaining that he was taking too long to get the job completed. There was nothing glamorous about it.

Or take multiple-award-winning songwr...

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Descripción Tarcher, United States, 2014. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Access a level of creativity you never thought possible, using techniques Tom Sturges former head of creative atUniversal Music Publishing Group learned in his 25-plus years in the music industry. Everyone is innately creative. But many of us especially those trying to develop careers in music and the arts wish we knew how to better tap into our creative potential. Is there a way to more easily connect with the part of our minds that knows how to complete a song, finish a poem, or solve a problem? Music industry veteran Tom Sturges argues that there is. Sturges who, in his 25-plus-year career, has worked with artists including Carole King, Paul Simon, Elton John, Neil Young, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins and Outkast has developed dependable techniques to help you recognize and harness your own creative power, whenever and wherever you need it Get insight and knowledge of the creative process from Sir Paul McCartney and other. . Every Idea Is a Good Idea invites readers to find the pathway to their own creative endeavors. Nº de ref. de la librería BTE9780399166037

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Descripción Tarcher, United States, 2014. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Access a level of creativity you never thought possible, using techniques Tom Sturges former head of creative atUniversal Music Publishing Group learned in his 25-plus years in the music industry. Everyone is innately creative. But many of us especially those trying to develop careers in music and the arts wish we knew how to better tap into our creative potential. Is there a way to more easily connect with the part of our minds that knows how to complete a song, finish a poem, or solve a problem? Music industry veteran Tom Sturges argues that there is. Sturges who, in his 25-plus-year career, has worked with artists including Carole King, Paul Simon, Elton John, Neil Young, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins and Outkast has developed dependable techniques to help you recognize and harness your own creative power, whenever and wherever you need it Get insight and knowledge of the creative process from Sir Paul McCartney and other. . Every Idea Is a Good Idea invites readers to find the pathway to their own creative endeavors. Nº de ref. de la librería BZV9780399166037

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