There is a season, turn, turn, turn

Writing to say something, writing to exercise, writing to keep at it even in the face of an empty page. There is value in all that. Should it all be published, though?

I was working on a show many moons ago where the featured musicians were Wynton Marsalis and his Septet. They were rehearsing one of the pieces and while one musician was taking his solo, Wynton stopped everyone and, reprimanding the musician, shouted something along the lines of (my memory isn’t perfect but I remember the point) “Stop practicing your scales! I came here to play! Practice at home. If you’re here to play, then play! But stop wasting my time.”

All the great artists did a great deal of research, practice, and rehearsals. Even Mark Rothko, as simple as his works may seem, did drafts. We are enamored with process, especially us artists. Process is important. It is important to keep creating especially in those moments when we feel creation is beyond our grasp!

Van Gogh even painted the same thing 50+ times until he thought he got it right. Each iteration certainly had its value. We are enamored by every drawing and draft we can find of Da Vinci’s and Michelangelo’s. Each such artifact gives us a glimmer into their process, mind, and appraoch to their work.

As someone who works in an art discipline that is predicated on deadlines—there is a date that the show will go on, there is an opening night, ready or not, so we better be ready! When there is a real deadline, prioritizing becomes paramount. You truly and honestly have to assess what is and isn’t important. So I get the notion supporting the “Writing every day for 30 days” or its brethren.

And I know not everything will be great. Not everything Alvin Ailey choreographed was Revelations. Continuing to do the work is necessary and stopping because something isn’t great is not really an option. We have to work through a lot of less than stellar creations to get to the “great”. I not only get that, I preach that.

Make sh*t. Just do it.

But at what point are you practicing your scales and not playing real music?



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