Questlove is on a Creative Quest

Creative Quest by Questlove

Questlove is most famous for being the drummer of The Roots, but he is many more things. He is a DJ, a music connoisseur, an avid record collector, a music journalist, and a writer, among other things. His latest book explores creativity in a unique way. Here are some of the thoughts I had while reading it.

Creative Thought Takes Time

“For creativity, things need to settle in. Take root, flower, bloom, grow, tangle. The skim, the superficial, the way things get replaced so quickly, is the enemy not only of deep thoughts, but of creative thoughts.”

I have had this theory for quite some time. I call it the Think, Leave, Cook, Write method.

Don’t Throw Anything Away

“Technology today makes it easy to keep your old ideas at your fingertips: The half-baked ones, the ones that seem to peter out. You will be able to go back to them, and you should. There’s no such thing as garbage.”

I’ve thrown so many things out over the years and even lost great pieces of work through not storing them properly or backing them up in more than one place. Creatives in all areas can learn from this wisdom.

Spark Creativity by Copying Something

“…make something that is already made. . . Copying, or covering, is always a valuable creative exercise. It gets you going. It restarts your brain and encourages you to look for the way things are built. Go and retype those last three last sentences. The first two have lots of alliteration: copying and covering, gets and going. The third one doesn’t have any at all. That’s one thing to think about.”

That is a great idea. I know that most rappers and musicians start out by copying someone’s style or flow. It’s a natural starting point in helping find and develop your own voice. It’s also something you can do if you find the ideas aren’t flowing.

Review Your Old Work

“I urge everyone to revisit earlier work. . . I think you have to go back and look at your own work with a clear eye. And hopefully, with pleasure. It should keep you feeling good about yourself to know that you completed projects in the past.”

I talked about this on the radio a few weeks back when comedian and actor, Lunchbox was on the show. I always listen back to my radio show every week. And I revisit my old songs. It’s great to look at your own work with a critical eye. It helps you grow and improve.

Go Create

Questlove finishes the book with a clear call to action.

“When you are done here, don’t just close the cover and let the world return to the way it was before. Make things. Make your way to the things that others have made. Make theories of your own. All the advice in the world won’t help if you don’t get out there and start the perfectly imperfect process of creating.”

I know that I need creativity. I think we all do. It is not just for writers and musicians. So, go out there and make something. But maybe you should read this book first. It’s got some great ideas that can help you out. I plan to write about a few more of them in the upcoming weeks.

My List of 2019 Reads