Be Ruthlessly Creative with Your Art like Prince

Born Prince Rogers Nelson, the Artist Prince created so many finished songs, there’s a bank vault in his home dedicated to preserving them. As a purveyor of creativity myself, I can overlook the raw power Prince had in his artistic endeavors. His ability to be creative was astounding.

Can you produce too much? The record labels thought so and attempted to stymie Prince’s ambitions. This led to his famous name change to the androgynous symbol or The Artist Formerly Known as Prince. But how did Prince produce so many finished songs?

Work Fast and Finish What You Start

Prince was a song writing machine. Other artists might struggle for days in the studio to record a single song. Prince recorded a song every day he was in the studio. 

How can we possibly compete with such a creative monster? The answer is simple. We don’t have to be Prince, but use his ideals as a guide. Prince worked fast and wanted to finish what he started. 

As writers or artists, we can use the time we have (be it 15 minutes or hours) to get the work done. Keep moving forward and finish that project.

Use Every Scrap of Time

If Prince was awake, he was making art. Typically, after a live performance earlier that night, he would work in the studio up to the last possible minute. Only then would he  travel to his next destination, sleeping on the bus or plane. 

We don’t have the hours to devote to creativity as he did, but we can put our phones down and devote 15, 20, an hour to our work. Even going through our day, we can get in the habit of jotting down ideas or notions. We can train our brain to always be thinking about our art. 

Leave the Mistakes In

Prince often wouldn’t tamper too much with his recordings, preferring the raw emotional power of the performance. He felt that the mistakes needed to be there to make the song honest. 

As artists, the desire to create something perfect right out of the gate is a creativity killer. It paralyzes us into taking no action at all. The answer is to simply forge head and embrace the gaffs and goofs. Even a dead end in a project tells us one thing, we don’t want to go in that direction. 

The longer we dwell on the details, the more we will muddy the emotion. There will be time for polishing and revision later. 

Foster a Vault Mentality

Prince had an actual bank vault built in his home. Not a tiny safe, but a room you can walk into. This is the repository for all the records he has made, many of them have never been released to the public. These aren’t the half-finished snippets we get from the Beatles, but full studio finished songs. Hundreds of them.

Prince created songs not just for the current album, but for his ongoing legacy. He didn’t think of how his work might be important for just today. He thought long term. 

If we think about our writing or drawing as a piece in a much larger body of work, it can take the pressure off. What we create right now doesn’t have to be perfect. It can merely document the kind of artist we are at this moment. It can serves as milestone in a long line of creativity. 

Although I doubt I will ever fill a vault with stories, I like to think that I can create pieces just for the sake of making them. I can keep moving forward and build my own artistic legacy. 

Be ravenous with your art and never pause. 

Tim Kane

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