Creativity, humility, and ego

Jeff Tweedy and Wilco were featured recently on the Song Exploder podcast breaking down the track “Magnetized” from their latest album Star Wars. At one point, Tweedy discussed songwriting and how he actively works to remove himself from the creative process to stimulate discovery:

I just trust that some meaning will come out of this process, and that something I want to say is going to be harder to conceal when I get my ego out of the way and I’m not trying to direct all meaning. Your ego isn’t interested in what’s inside of you. Your ego is very much interested in presenting an idealized version of yourself to the world. Vulnerability only cracks through that by accident, unintentionally. Your ego is working really hard to be smart, clever, and on-par with your heroes musically...those are real roadblocks to discovery. I just trust the process a lot more than I trust myself to present something honest, vulnerable and real. — Jeff Tweedy, Wilco

I love this analogy, for it illustrates a point about all types of creative output. Ego and pride may instill the necessary confidence to begin a project, but soon thereafter form impediments that block honesty and objectivity. They’re artificial constructs designed to protect the “self” from negativity — contrary opinions, indecision, uncertainty, self-doubt. The optimal path to true creative discovery can be found by shelving self-worth, relative importance, experience and accomplishment and focusing purely on exploration, honesty and openness.

Check out the full episode here: