A while ago I posted about how when you magically have the kind of enthusiasm
that carries you over obstacles which (without that enthusiasm) might seem insurmountable (like e.g. working incredibly long hours on something and it seeming like fun), that's sort of a sign of the True Will (at least in an ordinary, everyday sense, or a creative sense).
To add to that, there's another element, which is momentum
. When you have a project, there's a period where you're sort of gathering materials, then there's a period where you're consciously putting something together, then at some point (when the enthusiasm aforesaid is thick and strong and you've built up a "head of steam") there's a time to strike
. That moment can often be a frenzied scurry, where you don't quite know what you're doing (you're almost in a trance) and you've ballistically thrown yourself, committed yourself to something. This is also the period in which whatever you carefully put together consciously in the previous phase may even be overthrown and a new thing quickly built that has some technical flaws the consciously-built thing didn't have (flaws that may come back to haunt you if you're a perfectionist), but the new thing works
. (That "quick, inspired rebuild" thing doesn't always happen, but you've got to be prepared for it, and "ego" is the last thing you need at that point.)
The conscious phase (and having the requisite technical "chops", both to build in the conscious phase, and to do a competent quick rebuild under pressure in the "strike" phase, if it turns out that's what's required) is absolutely a necessary part of the process, and has to be done with professionalism, but the real trick is catching the momentum at the right moment. It's not in "technique" or in anything learned in a studious way (as outsiders to the knack often think). Then you find that the really key things you are doing that make the biggest difference to the impact of the final product, are often just casual, almost accidental strokes of the brush, or even just plain accidents that you incorporate - things you almost think are nothing at the time, but turn out to be the tiny word or turn of phrase, or blob of colour, or squeak, that does the trick, and the very thing that everything was really
building up towards all along, even though you didn't know it.
A major part of experience with any trade, business, or creative endeavour, is recognizing or having a sense of when it's time to strike
, and you can only get that by having tried to do the thing lots of times, and failed a few times (and also often, first of all, by apprenticing yourself to someone who has the knack).
Of course this can take a few hours (a business meeting), a few days (a painting) or weeks or months (a book), but there's always this sense of building up to something.
In my own experience as a musician and producer of music, 90% of the impact of music comes from the performance, and in order to get a good performance, a huge part of the art of music production is that you have to somehow arrange the psychology of set and setting so that the "session" builds to a head. Again, there's a preamble, people getting to know each other, relaxedly getting things set up, gathering materials (e.g. samples, sounds, basic parts) then a period of serious, conscious work on the thing, then that period of craziness, when you don't quite know what's going to happen, but somehow (if everyone concerned is in sync, experienced and lucky), whatever happens is "in the pocket".
I should add that there's sometimes an "Apophis" phase too, where it all seems like utter (****) and you're standing outside yourself wondering what the hell you're doing, why you're wasting your time. But that actually isn't inevitable
or (I think) even necessary. It can be connected to the "quick rebuild" (i.e. you feel that whatever you were building isn't right, so you throw it away and slap the new thing together in a trance, but it works).
Just some advice for the young 'uns here, from an old fart