Jonny Middleton gives us an insight into the creative process …
You stand, gripping your 99p Flake Ice Cream (now £1.29 thanks to inflation) in mid summer – hand morphing into the cone because of the excitement this rare treat brings; you shove it wholeheartedly into your mouth and the initial flavours and refreshing smoothness cause nostalgia to rise up and memories of childhood come flooding back. And then, you realise you’ve literally bitten off more than you can chew…the sensation of frostbite in your head starts and suddenly you are plunged headlong into a pit of incredible and excruciating pain. Like having your head in a vice – you know the feeling.
Sometimes writing music, crafting lyrics and melodies is similar to eating a delicious 99p (£1.29) but getting brain freeze in the process. Inspiration will arrive, looking like the proverbial ice cream – ready to be enjoyed and flattened – deliciously sweet and tasty. Yet often I find myself tucking into the process of expressing a thought, creating a melody or lyric that has potential, only to be thwarted and eventually disheartened by my need for the perfect song. The initial seed is sown yet falls on shallow ground and dies.
It may be worth thinking of the creative process as like doing a jigsaw puzzle. You can see the finished product on the box – you know where you need to end up. But it takes one piece at a time. The right piece in the right place. The edges clearly in place before the middle can slowly be filled in. Be intentional with every word and note because they are all important in communicating what you need to communicate.
Inspiration will come suddenly, in a moment of prayer or worship, walking along the road, while getting a perm – no situation is too stale to draw inspiration. Like a flash of lightening it will happen. Be diligent to capture that moment, the feeling, but don’t be satisfied until that same emotion is fully represented in the outcome. Sometimes a song takes three years, sometimes twenty minutes – do not be discouraged but always look to shape and craft. Learn to steward your creativity, work at it and shape it, pray into it. Seek God continually in your art as He is the best Creator and you have access to His Spirit.