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Out of Our Minds
Monday, May 24, 2004 9:48 PM
Genius in Three Hours
Anita Sharpe on Creativity

A few days ago, I was listening to my 12-year-old son play Get Back on his electric guitar and marveling once again at how a 40-year-old band can continue to inspire.

It's worth reflecting on how the Beatles created their phenomenal body of work. Paul McCartney, describing the song-writing process with John Lennon (from Many Years From Now by Barry Miles), says:

'John and I would sit down and by then it might be one or two o'clock, and by four or five o'clock we'd be done. Three hours is about right, you start to fray at the edges after that. . .We always wrote a song a day, whatever happened we always wrote a song a day. And after that I'd pack up and drive back home and go out for the evening and that was it.'

The lesson to draw from this is that a creative breakthrough -- or any great work, for that matter -- doesn't come from working non-stop, even at something you love, any more than it comes from waiting around for lightning to strike. The secret is putting in a few consistent, quality hours, every day.


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Kate - 5/25/2004 4:42:30 PM
An excellent observation. I think anyone interested in exploring and utilizing the partnership of routine and creativity would enjoy dancer/choreographer Twyla Tharp's gorgeous book 'The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life.' Practical, eclectic and accessible to any form of expression, I come back to this one again and again.


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