Creativity: “Divest Yourself from the Outcomes”

Creativity is risky. That’s a lesson I learn in a very real way every three years or so when the band I play in releases a new album. Ideally, artists create art for the simple reason that the art is inside them and to keep from exploding or going insane, they need to give it form and release it to the world. For my particular band we work at a unrushed pace, always deferring to give ourselves more time to make sure what’s in us is given a form that all four of us agree is the best we have to give. There are both positive and negative aspects of going slow. The positive is that you can really put what you’ve done under the microscope and are free to endlessly edit your approach. The downside is with this approach is that you can easily find yourself at the bottom of a very deep rabbit hole, losing any sense of direction, without any light to check your compass. We’ve tried to do everything out power to speed things up, but our process is just what it is. This isn’t to say that great records can’t be made in a matter of weeks or even days. Many of the very best records in our collections testify to that fact.

The other benefit of our slow approach is that when we finally get to the point of releasing our music to the world, we are content with what we’ve done. We can look each other in the eye and know that this album is an honest representation of who we’ve been as a band for the past two years or so while we’ve been making this album. We often talk about our what our albums will mean to us in twenty, thirty years from now. Will we look back and know we put the best part of ourselves in those songs? In order for us to be ready to release what we’ve done, the answer to that question has to be “YES!”

This sentiment allows us to more easily absolve ourselves from the peripheral outcomes that we encounter, primarily the opinions of others about what we’ve done. My friend Shane Hipps uses a great term that I’ve adopted, “Divest your self from the outcomes.” Becoming too attached to the opinions of others can lead an artist outside themselves, altering their original motivation and inspiration. This is incredibly hard to do and in a sense, it’s impossible. But attaching yourself to the outcomes must be resisted, even when the outcome is complimentary to your work. If you are not content with your work, keep working. If you are content with your work, own it and release it out into the world and never look back. Good reviews and bad reviews of what you’ve done are just steaming piles of dung, worthless to who you are as an artist.


4 thoughts on “Creativity: “Divest Yourself from the Outcomes”

  1. Rad post Zach. Glad I read it. It’s true “Divest your self from the outcomes.” Glad to know the truth is so relatable to all people and artists in any form or walk in life. -M

  2. Solid thoughts, Zach. I’ve had a few conversations along these lines with some of my artist friends in recent months. When I reflect back to when my life was more oriented around “creating,” I have a hard time separating out the purity of expression from the desire for affirmation…

    >>”Becoming too attached to the opinions of others can lead an artist outside themselves, altering their original motivation and inspiration. This is incredibly hard to do and in a sense, it’s impossible. ”

    I resonate with the impossible aspect, I think… because, in my mind, human expression is only “expression” because other people exist around us. … Although, now I’m second-guessing myself on that one…

    Ha, we should talk more about this sometime!

  3. Outstanding.

    You need to write more on the creative process. The idea of spending years collabratively with others is something that deserves more reflection and better thoughts.

    I found your insights here really meaningful.


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