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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Creativity and Promotion: Advice From John Mayer

John Mayer is a truly gifted musician and songwriter. However, he's not exactly the first person you think of when looking for advice on writing or even being an artist in general. Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, a really excellent site where readers and writers connect, posted a link to a truly remarkable piece. It concerned Mr. Mayer and some rather profound ideas he shared with Berkley students about creativity, promotion and being an artist. I think his words are especially important for people just getting started with their creative endeavors and young people in particular. Click here to read.

In this clinic, he discusses topics and behaviors that are detrimental to creativity. For example, toxic thinking. We think that someone's work is not as good as ours and wonder why they made it. How sometimes we are afraid to finish a piece because we think it's not good enough. Or perhaps spending too much time on social media instead of honing our craft.

I found myself really taking to heart some of the things he said and noticing my own behavior and attitudes in some of his what not to do examples. Needless to say I was cringing. Well you learn and move on, right?


  1. an interesting name for the site :)

  2. I'll check it out!
    And hope your book wins, Melissa. I voted!

  3. I blogged and was active on an online forum a few years ago. I had to pull the plug on both in order to write my second novel. It was too distracting. I was more interested in checking the forum than getting my pages written. Once I disconnected I finished the novel.

    It's a really tough balance. I think Mayer is right that good music (or in a writer's case a good novel) is its own promotion. The work should come first.

    I spend way too much time on Blogger, which is why I've cut my posts to twice a week. I like connecting with other writers but I got another book to write. I'm hoping I can manage both this time.

  4. Yeah, I can definitely see how certain behaviors can be detrimental to the creative process. I think the only cure is to work your way past the behaviors until they are no more, and then go back to the creative work once again.

  5. I really can relate to that second paragraph.

    The site sounds interesting and I love the name. I'll definitely have to go check it out.

  6. I can totally understand that as well - finding that balance is hard - because to go wholly one way or the other can shut off interactions that can be beneficial on the one hand, or on the other cause us to get flabby in the discipline. I've lost evenings to reading and commenting when I had planned to be writing - I chalk those up as an evening that's passed and I make plans for the next one...

  7. WOW!

    This was truly an inspirational read. John Mayer, unbeknownst to me, is intelligent and profound.

    Creativity is so easy to stifle. The real difficulty, and I'll piggyback Craig's thoughts, is nurturing and refining our creative energies, in a way that is neither excessive nor underdone. As Mayer so eloquently points out, if one is genuinely passionate about pursuing a creative career (music or otherwise), then one has to debunk the myths and accept the rigors of the process. It ain't easy, but if you aspire to be great or desire to be "found," you gotta put in the endless work.

    Melissa, thanks for sharing. I love reading these from-the-soul pieces :)

  8. That's a pretty inspirational post. I'm guilty of a few things there, hehe.

  9. He looks cute and he plays the guitar! My kind of man...Now off to se if he is as smart as he is cute :)

  10. I've never heard of him! ... and I consider myself a big music fan. Off to the bitches and books then :)

  11. That was a great article! Sounds like he's a really down to earth kinda guy.

  12. @Dez I love this sight. The name got me the first time I visited and I keep going back because it is such a fantastic connection site for readers and writers.

    @Alex I think you'll enjoy what John has to say. And thanks for the support on the story. You are awesome!

    @L.G. I took this article to heart because I do not manage my time very well and I can where my work is beginning to suffer. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  13. @Jeffrey I never even thought about this type of behavior because I'm not always so good at catching my own foibles. That's some great advice about working through the behaviors.

    @M.J. Thank you for sharing. It took me a while to write this after I read the article and it was eye-opening to realize I had been engaging in some of this behavior.

    Check out the site. It is awesome, so funny and the ladies are very knowledgeable about the publishing industry. :)

    @Craig I so know what you mean about losing whole evenings to reading or whatever and not writing. Finding that balance is definitely something I need to do and it certainly has not been easy. My creativity is suffering and I need to fix that. This was an eye-opening article for me.

  14. @Matt Thank you! Your words mean a lot. This was certainly one of those stop and think pieces that I just had to share. I have been trying to find a balance to keep my creativity flowing and it has been quite difficult.

    It is so easy to throw oneself into one way of thinking, stifling the other parts of one's brain. And to remember to write/work through the bad stuff because without the bad there can't be the good.

    @Jamie Thank you so for sharing. It took me aback to see myself engaging in some of these behaviors. I'm happy to hear you found some inspiration in John's words.

    @Siv LOL He is good to look at and looks yummy with that guitar. I do think his words will surprise you. I found them to be brilliant.

  15. @Nebular LOL George,"off to the bitches and books." I love it. John is a very well-known musician and songwriter here in the US. Give some of his stuff a listen. I think you'd enjoy it. And I know you'll like the Smart Bitches site. ;)

    @Pk John really surprised me with this clinic. It was definitely an unexpected source of insight and inspiration.

  16. John Mayer is a musical genius. He did upset women everywhere last year, but I'm glad he's cleaning up his act. Good for him. I like the "toxic thinking" comment.

  17. Thanks for sharing this one interesting peace of info, Mel.
    I really like hearing some of John Mayer's songs. Looking forward to the site and read the discussion.

  18. That really was a fascinating article. Thanks for the link!

    Ellie Garratt

  19. Interesting. John Mayer's advice sounds deep and helpful. He's a good one. Gosh darnit, I wanted John and Jennifer A. to stay together. Oh well.

    PS I really enjoyed your comment on my blog and I'm quite sure I also dated that 45 year old basement dweller. Oy. We need to get together sometime for hard alcohol and head-thunking.


  20. @msmariah I'm glad he's cleaning up his act, too. I know what you mean about the toxic thinking. That was pretty profound. I will start thinking negatively about my work before I even finish sometimes and that makes working on it all the harder.

    @Jaccstev Thank you! I love Mayer's music as well and I hope you enjoy reading the article. It was pretty profound and is having a rather large impact on my way of thinking.

  21. @Ellie I'm so happy you enjoyed it. Mayer really surprised me with his thought-provoking clinic.

    @Robyn Jenn and John did make a cute couple. :) His words got me thinking about the way I look at my own work.

    LOL I loved your post. You got really got me going and I knew I had to share about Basement Dude. Hard alcohol and head-thunking, you know I'll buy first round. ;)


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