Don’t Get Desperate For Ideas: On Sprezzatura And Wu Wei

Do not get desperate for ideas.

Thinking of something tremendous to roll out. Convince yourself that not everything has to be nobel prize winning material. Do something. Anything. A little bit helps in laying bricks for achievement. There are a lot of things that you can do to open your mind and get your mind off of the thought of having to achieve immediately.

The more advanced can only come from the simplest steps. So if I’m in a funk, pulling my hair out – unlikely- but if I feel in that state, I’d shake it off and do something else. Rattling your brain out, and fishing for ideas is a good way to get nothing.

There are many things I do to keep the mind out of this situation. In Steven Pressfield’s book The War Of Art, he called it resistance. I don’t like to have to force much of what I do, I prefer the idea to fall out in the air like a feather from a bird flapping it’s wings, so simply, effortlessly.

I feel like the back of my mind will still mull over coming up with an idea, whether for music, writing or something else. But unrestrained and undistracted I reach it efficiently. If not, it will work backwards.

I’ve said you can force creativity before but you can’t unless you’ve gathered yourself and relax in trying to get it, not resisting.

By telling yourself to think, the act of thinking about thinking doesn’t work. It is like a cat staring at the mouse hole all day long. It won’t come out until the cat has left. I find it’s the same way.

I’ll take a break in different ways and by the time I’m done I’m re-energized and prepared to take on new ideas. I typically do some exercise, I’ll stretch, read or go for a walk. The simple act of walking and exercise will get your blood circulating in your system and it will be like a prepatory activity.

It will remove you from your mind. I always refer to Eastern philosophy for these kinds of matters, they got a lot of it right. I apply it to life and creativity.

A good idea comes when you least expect. It may not be the key idea. But it may evolve into something.sprezzatura


There is an Italian expression: Sprezzatura. Which was proposed in The Book Of The Courtier by Castiglione. I would describe Sprezzatura as a kind of “never letting them see you sweat,” The Wiki describes it as “an easy facility in accomplishing difficult actions which hides the conscious effort that went into them”

While this may be interpreted for a more public setting, I believe it should be applied with oneself. Once amalgamated with Eastern philosophy, that detachment that nonchalance, without effort, the attitude of letting go, together it’s like marrying the notion of not identifying with your conscious effort. I get a hunch that it can be paralleled in this sense.


If you have ease of yourself, not identifying, you won’t become desperate and frustrated. It’s pointless. Just get on with your day and let the idea come. And when it does let it consume you and let yourself be in full throttle when it does come.

Don’t go chasing the wind, it is useless. Become an Ocean and become the waves, pushing you where you need to go. I look at it also from a Taoist philosophy of Wu-Wei similarly.

The concept being action, without effort. I feel a practical person may dismiss the concept. But the substance of it lies in knowing that ideas do in fact flow, and it’s understanding that you can rise out of the desperation of searching for the idea and not letting that overwhelm you or define you in the moment. Thereby fulfilling your role, coming full circle.ocean-splash


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