"I'm a mule, and the way that I have to work is that I have to get up at the same time every day, and sweat and labor and barrel through it really awkwardly."
This one is an oldie — from 2009 — and has made it’s way around the Internet a few million times already, but some of you mentioned it in the comment thread of this post, so I figured it’d be a good time to share this.
In this TED Talk, “Eat, Pray, Love” author Gilbert explains her study of artists and the creative process and how different creatives few inspiration. It’s fascinating and relatable speech, and if you haven’t seen it already, you should check it out above.
My favorite bit is this part about Tom Waits:
“Tom [Waits], for most of his life he was pretty much the embodiment of the tormented contemporary modern artist, trying to control and manage and dominate these sort of uncontrollable creative impulses that were totally internalized.
But then he got older, he got calmer, and one day he was driving down the freeway in Los Angeles he told me, and this is when it all changed for him. And he’s speeding along, and all of a sudden he hears this little fragment of melody, that comes into his head as inspiration often comes, elusive and tantalizing, and he wants it, you know, it’s gorgeous,and he longs for it, but he has no way to get it. He doesn’t have a piece of paper, he doesn’t have a pencil, he doesn’t have a tape recorder.
So he starts to feel all of that old anxiety start to rise in him like, “I’m going to lose this thing, and then I’m going to be haunted by this song forever. I’m not good enough, and I can’t do it.” And instead of panicking, he just stopped. He just stopped that whole mental process and he did something completely novel. He just looked up at the sky, and he said,”Excuse me, can you not see that I’m driving?” (Laughter) “Do I look like I can write down a song right now? If you really want to exist, come back at a more opportune moment when I can take care of you. Otherwise, go bother somebody else today. Go bother Leonard Cohen.”