Ok, easier said than done as most things are.

In fact, many just flatly say, “I can’t improvise,” often while pointing to some inability to keep a rhythm.

But, there is a secret to improv.

It’s not all made up on the spot. It rests on everything you’ve learned or created before.

When we walk somewhere, we rest on the skills we’ve developed to walk, having started with only crawling. When we talk about something, we rest on the learning to speak, having started with only babbling.

When creating a piece of music, we rest on the scale and the practice of rhythms we’ve gathered over time.

The first time I performed music online, I had to fill an hour. Meanwhile, I only had about 35 minutes of written music to draw from.

But in reality, these 35 minutes were only there as a backup. I’d make things up based on all the musical practice I’d already had. And, at any time I felt like I was running out of ideas, I could always fall back on the pieces I knew.

Suddenly, I would find a new path and play in a new direction. I finished the performance with a ton of material still left over. Now, fifteen years later, I continue to perform weekly, blending the old, the new, and the spontaneous.

In this way, improvisation is not only play, but play using a structure.

We already know how to play. We were born with that. Improvisation is always there.

We can do the same with writing. Recent years have seen an explosion in note writing. With encouragement from Second Brains, Linking Thinking, or Smart Notes, we can write our thoughts, gather them from the past, and use them to create in the now.

I’ve created my own in DEVONthink having taken the spark from Sonke Ahren’s How to Take Smart Notes. I have gradually and enjoyably gathered not only ideas I’ve read, but more importantly my reactions to those ideas. In an increasingly intricate way, my the records of thoughts interlink.

Now, I can still improvise writing whatever comes to mind, but whenever I hit a snag, I have a large world of ideas to draw from.

  • Kourosh

PS If you ever struggle with the blank page, consider how you could have all your thoughts at your fingertips with Taking Smart Notes with DEVONthink.

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