No, I’m not talking about starvation by not eating – that is just silly and I like food much too much to even consider that.
I’m talking about creative starvation. Last night I was at a friends bucks’ party in a German pub at the Rocks in Sydney (I’m sure locals will know exactly where I am talking about), and at some point a conversation with a friend there stumbled onto the topic of song writing processes of different artists and bands, as he himself plays in a band. During this, we were discussing another local band who I have followed for a few years as I used to work with their guitarist at my old retail job, and I remember him telling me about the process the singer of that band went through building up to writing the songs for one of their more successful albums.
To cut a long story short, this singer stopped listening to music for 6 months before he started writing any songs for their album. He only cheated once, listening to a Crowded House song (Weather With You, if my memory serves me correct, but it’s been a long time since I heard this story). His thoughts behind doing this was that he wanted to strip himself of any potential influences from stuff he would be listening to, so that he would write music that was more unique, distinctly his own. Interestingly enough, that particular album that resulted does stand out from their catalogue as their most unique work.
This conversation last night took a few turns from here though, as we ventured into this idea on a more general creative level. I explained to my friend how for me, as a writer, this sort of goes against everything we’re ever told – if you don’t read, you don’t have the tools, the fuel, to write stories and books. And surely listening to music is much the equivalent when it comes to writing songs, much as I imagine looking at art would be for a painter, and so on.
I think it is pretty unusual to hear anybody in any creative field try anything like this, but a part of me does wonder if there is some potential benefit to starving oneself of creative fuel, if only for a very short period. Could it cause a writer, musician, or artist to create something entirely new, or would that person still somehow use influences perhaps locked further away in their minds and memories? Or would it just cause a creative block?
What are your thoughts on this approach? Do you think it could work, or is it nonsense? Be completely honest, as I have no specific opinion here – I am just curious to see what everybody else thinks!