This morning in my Inbox I found a post called “Making it up as you go along” from Seth Godin’s blog. It was one line long:

“Just wondering: Is there any other way to make it up?”

I had to read it twice to get Godin’s teeny Zen post. Making it up – improvising – is about being in the moment, following ideas from one moment to the next as you find your way to a solution or answer or innovation that never existed before. More often than not, the path leads to unexpected ideas and associations, some unworkable, though even the unworkable ones are useful for pushing your brain to a good idea. The answer is always there waiting; you’ve got to be willing to follow the path – be open – to find it. It’s what is meant by “The moment provides.”

Godin’s post sent me poking around his website for more.  One thing…..


…………… another,  and I found another great one-line piece of wisdom buried in another of his posts:

“In the long run, the enemy of fear is creativity.”  

…which somehow took me to this beautiful little  video of Jackson Pollock painting.

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4 replies on “making it up as you go along (seth godin + jackson pollock)

  1. What is it about the creative force that actually endows a painting or a novel with “a life of its own?” The painting tells the painter what to do, the characters in the novel take over and live their lives on their own…. This is very mysterious and wonderful stuff. Improvising = intuition.

  2. One of God’s little jokes is that the simple act of getting out of one’s own way and surrendering to “the life of its own” is one of the hardest things to do (fear of mockery, being boring, wrong, offensive, square; others’ contempt or pity; of being mediocre; or trying to control the work so it makes one look good) but it’s what truly resonates in an audience and ultimately, it’s what “sells” the work.

  3. Do you mean, that if you are able to go with what is truly authentic – what the work dictates, where it tells you to go – that that is when it resonates with people? The gist I guess: people respond to honesty?

  4. Kind of, yes, but you’d better be a good technician too. In communications, research shows at least 70% of what’s received is non-verbal. But I think it can be true in visual arts. Years ago I saw Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi lecture at the University of Washington about his book, Flow. He showed art that “flowed” from the purpose of the art rather than the goal of making a good impression, but didn’t tell which was which. Examples included tribal women who paint the insides of their houses with signs against bad luck and the patterns were gorgeous, and a painting by an artist of with several figures with a very tall women. Csikszentmihalyi found a precedent in the artist’s childhood that explained the tall female (the artist was not aware of the connection). Contrast this with some facile-looking parrots wearing eye-patches done by a person whose goal was to get into the Whitney or similar place and studied the curator’s taste. Without yet knowing which was which, it was obvious which ones had some life and which looked contrived. I have another example but have taken too much space already. Love your blog; it’s very beautiful and I’d bet it comes from the heart.

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