As I write this, we are in the middle of the first round of Grammy Award® voting and the amount of current work artists put out is truly admirable. These are a group of independents and creatives that just can’t help but create additional innovative product. However, I don’t always see that type of new work from people in other fields.
I see post after post about past accomplishments, degrees and accolades. To be fair, some musicians also depend on their past work. I call them has-beens. Sure, I’ve written before about the fact that there’s not a lot of completely new information or ideas, excepting the medical field of course. Many of the new songs and even books are built upon an idea or progression that has already been shared. Many pop songs, such as Elton John’s, uses the same progression of I, IV, V and vi. If that’s Greek to you, just think it’s four chords. But the four chords work!
Many innovators are not always popular in their current lifetime. Composers are good examples of this, such as Saint- Saéns who wrote the brilliant Carnival of the Animals and Samson and Delilah. I will list a few of the benefits of putting out current work. Current work, at most any stage of life, keeps the mind sharp, provides new promotional opportunities and provides fresh goals.
Current Work Keeps the Mind Sharp
When creating new products or content, a process of re-doing and re-writing is usually involved. Most composers and authors know this process very well. If they don’t, their work is probably not worth much. Consistently evaluating, cutting, then revising is a common occurrence.
Doing so may take extra research, extra time to think, time for study and seeking outside professional perspectives. We have 1,128 pieces of music preserved today from the classical composer J.S. Bach. He was extremely prolific. There are some scholars who believe he actually could have written ten times that many compositions, many of which were thrown away after use, even used as fish wrappers. He lived sixty-five years, which surpassed the life expectancy of the time, which was forty-three years.
Studies verify the more the brain is exercised, the stronger and more connected it becomes. This is known as neuroplasticity. The more we engage and challenge both our minds and our bodies, we give our brains a greater chance of continuing to function at a high level. If you expect to live into your 80’s or beyond, you might be easily working into your 60’s and 70’s. The type of work is important though. Too much stress can have the opposite effect of creating longevity. But for many content creators, their work is a joy and they love to continue working and creating. The phrase use it or lose it, at least part-time, is verified as mental functioning can decline if the brain isn’t stimulated according to a study from UCLA Longevity Center.
Current Work Provides Promotional Opportunities
With every new product comes another opportunity to promote. This can be a new book, a new song or album, a new gizmo to save you time or a new product for your company. Brad Sanders, a record label manager, states on Spotify that the ideal cadence between album releases is every eighteen months to two years. This is why we see so many releases year after year for the Grammys.
Opyrus, a writing platform, states a fictional writer should publish at least once a year. Some even believe every six months is a good time frame. It really depends if you have good, quality content. A team is helpful for this. If you can tie a product to a particular holiday or time of year, all the better! I have music that is specifically for Christmas and have a promotional calendar that rotates sheet music for those songs. Also for love songs.
For current work, each of my new book releases also provides the opportunity to promote previous books. Holidays are great times to promote many products. These products further validate speakers, authors and thought leaders. They’re calling cards.
Current Work Encourages Goal Setting
I have spoken many times about how important it is to set realistic goals. (get your free goal setting worksheets) Setting realistic goals causes growth and reduces the stagnation that can occur when depending on past projects and work. According to Harold C. Schonberg in the book The Great Pianists, Franz Liszt constantly grew as a musician as he became older. Although he also became more complicated as audiences shrieked in ecstasy and sometimes fainted at his performances, especially the ladies. But that didn’t stop his personal growth.
Brazilian author Ryoki Inoue, born 1946, holds the Guinness World Record for being the most prolific author with 1,075 books published under many pseudonyms. Apparently he writes all day and night until he finishes a book. His secret of the creative process? 98% sweat, 1% talent and 1% luck. He applies discipline and application. This is over-the-top for most but is a good example of a prolific writer who finishes projects because he keeps at it.
Thomas Edison acquired an astounding 1,093 patents in his 84 years. He also managed to become a successful manufacturer and business man, marketing his inventions to the public. If you’ve studied his life at all, you know he faced a lot of failure as well as success. But he said he didn’t fail 10,000 times but found 10.000 ways that didn’t work. He never lost his focus and drive.
Your Current Work
How does all this apply to you? First of all, if you are a writer or creator of content, many congratulations! You are doing more than most. It’s inspiring that most everything the composer Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) composed has remained in the repertoire of pianists, though he died young. That is not true for many other classical composers and it is not true for many writers and composers today. But that shouldn’t diminish the creative process for creators looking to add fresh ideas and content to their messaging.
Unless you have a slew of hits like Carole King or James Taylor, you don’t have to perform the same songs night after night. However, Carole King is still writing today, even garnering a Grammy Nomination currently in 2022. James Taylor’s current new album American Standard sold over 82,000 equivalent album units in its first week.
You don’t have to be at the level of a major classical composer, prolific author, inventor or musical artist. But you can evaluate your current work and continue to grow in your mental stimulation and your impact as you share about your journey and growth, not just depending on your past accomplishments. Be inspired, be creative and be current.
The more we engage and challenge both our minds and our bodies, we give our brains a greater chance of continuing to function at a high level.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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