“When I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone, and of good cheer — say, travelling in a carriage, or walking after a good meal, or during the night when I cannot sleep; it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly. Whence and how they come, I know not; nor can I force them.”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
I love this comment from a letter attributed to Mozart because it describes the relaxed state in which his ideas arise and “flow best and most abundantly.” He goes on to say that if a particular idea pleases him, he retains it in his mind and begins to play with it in order to see how it might develop.
During the next stage of creation, he allows the idea to grow until is completely formulated in his head. As Amadeus describes it, “All this fires my soul, and, provided I am not disturbed, my subject enlarges itself, becomes methodised and defined, and the whole, though it be long, stands almost complete and finished in my mind, so that I can survey it, like a fine picture or a beautiful statue, at a glance. Nor do I hear in my imagination the parts successively, but I hear them, as it were, all at once. What a delight this is, I cannot tell! All this inventing, this producing, takes place in a pleasing lively dream.”
What a joyful, easeful portrait of the creative act Mozart fashions here! No muss, no fuss, no angst, no stress — only a “pleasing lively dream” that offers his masterful music up to him fully conceived. I wonder if there’s something here that we can use as writers. Instead of “Eat, Pray, Love” our boy Mozart’s approach appears to be: “Relax, Play, Conceive.”
Reading about how artists in other fields view their craft is always fun and often instructive. There is something refreshing and original about the way they express themselves as they cast around for words to describe or dance around the act of creation. Sometimes, there’s a little nugget of gold we can mine.