Songwriting Ideas From Wikipedia – Black Francis Interview

Village Voice Frank Black
Black Francis, lead singer of the Pixies, and incredibly prolific solo artist as Frank Black, gave the Village Voice an interview on his creative process. A lot of it is very specific to songwriting, but I thought this snippet was universally valuable. Beware, if you view your creativity is a fragile flower with magical inspiration from another realm, his method might seem a little mechanical. All I can say is that I have used this exact method before and it works.

Sometimes, you have an idea in your head and it’s just looking for a connection to bring it into the real world. Looking at random things can help it to take shape and connect it to reality more quickly. Plus, you’ll get to surprise yourself.


In the case of Svn Fngrs I had no idea what I was going to write about, but I was really up to the gut to try to go above and beyond the call of duty. And so I was under the gun and I was like, ‘Okay, what the hell am I going to write about here? What am I going to write about?’ And I literally just started doing the random article search function on Wikipedia. And I did this for quite a long time late one evening in a very tired state, and somehow I stumbled upon the article for demigods. And I was like, ‘Oh, demigods.’ And then, of course, ‘Okay, well what is a demigod? And who was a demigod? What do they mean by demigod?’ And, of course, on something like Wikipedia one article has other links in it and suddenly you’re off, you know. So the Internet has become a really great resource for me because I’m not a deep researcher. I just want to have an impression. I just need to find out some facts. I’ve already got my little concept going. My little concept is already in place, but I just need some facts so when I rhyme “phone” with “zone” my couplet – well, hopefully it has some artistic merit on its own, regardless of what it’s about or if it’s about anything – but if it happens to be about something, it’d be nice if it was sort of backing up some cool fact about the subject. It’s satisfying, I think, for the listener and it’s satisfying for me.



Ira Glass on the Motivation to Create

Ira Glass, host of This American Life on NPR, points out that most creative people start out trying to produce amazing things in a medium they love. They also start out with a high taste level. Their initial product does not live up to that high taste level, they know it’s not good. Most people never get past the point of producing things that don’t live up to their own judgement. How do you keep going until what you produce is actually good enough to please even you?

You can watch the whole series of Ira Glass on storytelling here.

Great video that will help you through difficult times.

Make a Magic Object! – Creativity Tip

Monkey Beatnik
I learned this tip from a friend.

We were working a book together, at his place, and before we started he turned to a monkey bobblehead on his desk and said, “Ready to go?”

“Are you talking to that monkey,” I asked.

“Of course,” he said, “that monkey helps me out.” He wasn’t even embarrassed about it, he said it like I was stupid for asking.

It turns out that everywhere he works he has a different toy, in his case all of them are monkeys, that he talks to before he starts work and then thanks when he’s done. It’s like he has created a magical creativity token for himself. He gives the monkey credit for the ideas, keeps all the money for himself, and when he’s stuck for ideas he pays attention to the monkey for a bit until an idea comes to him.

He uses all monkeys, but he claims that it works with any toy that has a face.

Here are his steps toward creating your own magic object.

1. Find an object with a face. It doesn’t have to be a toy, it could also be a statue or some other sculpture. Just make sure it has eyes you can look into. If you are religious, you can even use a religious statue of some kind. In fact, the more belief you have in it increases its usefulness.

2. Give the object a prominent spot in your workspace. Somewhere you can see it and reach out and grab it is best.

3. When you start working, acknowledge the object in some way. You can touch it, talk to it or just look at it. Just make sure that this become part of the ritual.

4. Although he didn’t do it in front of me, he also talks to his monkey. If you are stuck, ask your object for the answer. I’m not sure how it answers, we didn’t get into that.

5. Last, and most important, thank it when you’re done. Even if you don’t think your version of the monkey has done anything, thank it. According to my friend, this helps relieve the burden of starting the project again. Instead of having to remember where you were, all you have to do is go back to the monkey and pick up where you left off. This completes the cycle and lets you walk away with no weight on your shoulders.

I haven’t tried this tip yet, but my friend tells me it works wonders. In fact, he says a lot of people do it without realizing it. If you look at artist’s and designer’s workspace, you’ll always find at least one fun object with a place of prominence.

If nothing else, this will give you an excuse to go shopping for toys.

The Innovation Room

Here’s an interesting article on businesses making special meeting rooms for innovation. Not like normal conference rooms, these companies make a big room full of toys and such and when they need ideas they go to the “innovation room.” However, check out this description of Canadian Tires “innovation room.”

There are Lego sets and crayons on minisize tables and chairs, and a canoe and sun deck. A tree, seemingly sprouting from the walls, is made of ski poles, skateboards and other items sold by Canadian Tire. The room is usually locked.

That’s right, the innovation room is usually locked. We wouldn’t want to have innovation all the time. When we want people to use their imaginations, we’ll get out the keys and take them into a dusty abandoned room full of toys and get them to create for a while and then lock up the creation room again for another year.

I point this article out because I know creative people, unconnected to businesses, that do the same thing. They are so stingy with their creativity that they might as well have a locked room. Why not create constantly? A business that schedules innovation is going to lose out on a lot of opportunities and the same goes for creative individuals.

You don’t need a funny hat or a box of crayons to come up with a new idea unless the rest of your life was set up to squash new ideas. It’s like businesses, and creativity experts, have come up with a list of objects that represent imagination to them and they think putting them in a room with people magically makes them creative. The truth is that they lower the stakes of coming up with a stupid or bad idea. Crayons don’t make you more creative at work, but your boss not calling you an idiot for coming up with a bad idea probably would make you more creative.

Instead of the “innovation room” they should figure out what is killing innovation in the rest of the building and take care of that.

Read the article

Creative Process: Walt Disney


In his book Strategies of Genius, Robert Dilts quotes a Disney animator as saying there were three Walt Disneys, “The dreamer, the realist and the spoiler. You never knew which was coming to a meeting.”

He goes on to say that creativity is a combination of these three elements.

The Dreamer is necessary for creativity in order to form new ideas and goals. The Realist is necessary for creativity as a means to transform ideas into concrete expressions. The Critic is necessary for creativity as a filter and as a stimulus for refinement.

There are a lot of self-help books and experts that tell you the dreamer is the only one of the three you’ll need. They say that the realist and critic are evil and need to be stopped at all costs. Often imagination is extolled as fragile flower to be cherished and never judged. One of the most common bits of creativity advice it to silence your inner-critic.

Isn’t it only bad when you try and do all these things at once or get stuck in one without the other two? As the quote above says, you don’t bring all three to the same meeting. Perhaps you should just mute your inner-critic while you’re in a creative burst and then schedule a meeting with it the next day. Reality is going to impact your idea whether you want it to or not, so you might as schedule a meeting with it as well.

If you were going to break this down into a usable process it would be:

  1. Pure creativity.
  2. What don’t I like about it? How can I improve on the idea?
  3. Is the idea possible? Will the world like it? Will it succeed?

Is there one part of this process that you can’t do well? Is something holding you back? Try breaking it down into these three steps and seeing what happens.

Dream it, realize it, improve it and then let go of it. It may take years to finish a project, but it sure sounds simple when you say it like that.

Ideas Posted For You To Take – Hilarious Site

Fish remote
Well what it is is a harness for a goldfish you put it on them and you have a remote control and you can guide your fish round the bowl it would make their lives more fun and you can make them do tricks and they wouldn’t mind cause by the time they have realised wots going on they would on forgotten about it.

The idea above is just one of the many amazing thoughts available for free on Creativity Pool.  Creativity Pool a website for people to post their brilliant ideas so other people can carry them out. The people that run the site swear that anything posted there is just free for the taking for anyone with the resources to bring one of these undiscovered rough gems to its full potential.

The funniest part is that someone thinks they should get credit for an vague idea (Eyedrops that give protection from the sun to replace sunglasses, cure for AIDS) without any way of carrying it out, the details of how it would work or actually any effort on their part at all except posting their brilliance in an open forum.

Some of the folks involved are in on the joke, some aren’t.

A few further ideas:

Adult Park
I would like to see a theme park made for and only for adults (xxx style). Just think of it for a second. It is unique and it will be the first according to my studies. I myself would love to go to a place like that.

Wet Edged Paper
I have found many people "saliva" their fingers to flip pages. A very dirty habit indeed! How about pages that have edges that are wet so that there is no more saliva fingered flippings

Marital Status Shirts
Talking directly to people is one of the few ways to let them know your marital status. For shy people like myself this is not very easy. Some of us (shy people) would really like to talk to others at times but find it extremely hard. If we had designated tee shirts meant to display our thoughts that would be awesome. My shirt could say ‘I am single and shy, talk to me’. Wearing this at the right time could help influence a person that likes you to go the next step. This would also help people who are very slow to act. These shirts could help these slow people to have a lot more opportunities finding a woman they like. Couples could also buy the shirts for each other. Colors could also designate what the wearer is thinking. If these become popular enough a clothing line could be made.

Explore Creativity Pool

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