Sting – him off The Police obviously – said something strikingly wise in a TV show I was watching the other night. It was during a programme called “Secrets of the Pop Song” which is still available on BBC i-player if you’re quick – it’s a great series.
He said that as we get older or better at something, the critical faculty starts to strangle the creative one, bringing the whole process to a grinding halt. He talked about his kids, who are now young musicians – they write songs all the time, sometimes several a day but for him creativity has slowed right down, leaving him with only a handful of songs a year (and some of those on a lute!)
This seems to me to be true. As we get older, we sabotage our efforts with our fears; “what if it’s no good – how does it compare to Every Breath You Take – can I actually write anymore?”
Seth Godin refers to something like this when he talks about the lizard brain which jumps in to mess up our work. That lizard is only trying to protect us – but unfortunately it is trying to protect us from the inconvenience of success.
The Sting thing though – this is something slightly more nuanced – the fear that comes from having done something naturally and exuberantly once, only to find the critical voice creeping in.
Well do you know what – I feel a bit like that right now.
Sadly Mr Sting did not leave us with the answer, that’s something for you and me to work out but whatever it is, let’s hope it doesn’t involve anything too tantric.