- by Nate Hennon
I have always struggled to maintain a creative streak. When I get an idea, I am good for about an hour. At minute 61, things begin to fall apart, or I notice a new cat video on YouTube. Trying to chase this dragon is an arduous task that many authors have addressed and tried to demystify. However, Jesse Cannon's work, 'Processing Creativity: The Tools, Practices, And Habits Used to Make Music You're Happy With,’ is one of the most entertaining and approachable things to tackle this subject. Rather than taking a highly technical route to explain the unexplainable process of being creative, Cannon pulls back the curtain on songwriting and song development with simplicity and ease.
Just like a rogue magician telling secrets, Cannon is methodical with his approach and does not just say 'its best left to the professionals'.
From balancing the emotional and intellectual aspects of songwriting to the infamous 'Sophomore Slump', Cannon guides the reader through the typical trials and tribulations of the musically creative while never resorting to just 'Do this all the time' or a series of name drops of people he knows or have worked with previously.
My favorite sectionin Cannon's work is the topic of inspiration from other disciplines. To Cannon, the need to look outside of your sphere of knowledge allows one to become influenced by experts in another field. I have built my career around this very idea, "If you find a new way to think, looking at other fields will increase your ability to creatively problem-solve'. In addition, by looking at other people's work that are not in your field, it reduces the unconscious theft that plagues people in the artistic community. Sometimes you do not know where ideas come from, but other times they come from your peers without you recognizing it. There are only so many chord progressions and so many melodies in music theory, but the world's influence can be limitless if you are open to it.
But enough of my soapboxing....
Cannon's book is more of a reference guide on the creative process than a novel one reads in one sitting. Not because it is a tough read, but rather it is rich in information and required some digestion. As I went through its content, I found myself wishing I could dog-ear and highlight my digital copy constantly. Which would have ruined my screens. I know this material will be a go to for me whenever I am working through a project or trying to get a mental block at work.