a second first thought
Published April 19, 2022
Allen Ginsberg, the profoundly influential poet, teacher and co-founder of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, was known for teaching the poetic slogan at Naropa, “First thought, best thought,” and you’ll hear me repeat it often when leading songwriting prompts in any of the courses or workshops at golden lotus studio.
Now, I do think that this first thought is absolutely the best thought. And this is the best way, or one of the best ways, to get out of our own way when we are allowing a piece (a song, an article, a painting, an idea for our next piece of social media) to come through us in a purely creative state.
This is where we enjoy the infinite flow of creativity that is available to each of us in any moment.
And practicing this kind of creativity does make the connection stronger.
Just like practicing your piano scales, or your guitar chords. Only potentially, it’s a lot more fun and enlightening.
But I do want to confess to you, here in this blog, that I sometimes delight in entertaining a second first thought.
It comes from the sessions I’ve sometimes held in collaborating with another person to make a song in 15 minutes.
The rules for creation are these:
- you have to make a song in 15 minutes
- you must say “yes, and” to every idea that is put forth to keep the creativity flowing
And then the only amendment to #2 is that if you have a very strong negative reaction to an idea that is put forth, you have exactly one second to allow a better idea to come forth as a positively stated suggestion. A kind of “Or, how about…?”
If there’s any disagreement about which idea is better, then you go with the first one.
And there is absolutely no time to go on to a 3rd idea or you will not make it to a finished song in 15 minutes.
So, I urge you to try this out in your free writing, in your time with us in the Friday Afternoon Songwriting Club, and in your own creativity:
If you really dislike a first thought, take just one energized moment to see if a second thought is waiting behind the first.
If so, then put it down. If not, then gratefully accept the first idea and keep writing.
Don’t let yourself go to a third thought or slip into editing mode. This is URGENTLY important.
There is time for editing later.
Positive creativity is an act of devotion, generosity, and bravery.
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