This past weekend I enjoyed watching Sting perform songs from his latest album and first musical “The Last Ship” on PBS. The musical, which premieres June 10, 2014, in Chicago, is about the demise of the shipbuilding business in Sting’s hometown of Newcastle, England, when he was growing up.
I’ve always been a fan of Sting, amazed at the variety of musical worlds he’s navigated. Inspired by Sting’s latest journey into the Broadway musical genre, I’ve recognized a couple truths all creatives can apply to their crafts.
- Harness the Power in the Familiar and Ordinary.
Sting’s musical is about everyday life in a small shipbuilding village, showcasing people’s struggles and triumphs in daily living. The song “Sky Hooks and Tartan Paint” is about a young man’s first day at work in the shipyards, and some of the light hazing that his crew members put him through.
It’s amazing how simple, ordinary aspects of life—like a first day at work—can be powerful tools for a writer. By exposing the everyday feelings of a character, a writer creates a kind of transparency that forges an authentic connection with people. We can all relate to the characters and live in the music.
Inspiration is all around us, in the people we interact with, in the routine rhythms and upsets of life. We creatives would be wise to harness the power in embodying the fullness of life through our works.
- Seek Out New Experiences & Creative Challenges.
Although Sting is a 16-time Grammy award-winning artist, he risked his reputation in deciding to write a musical. He admitted that writing a musical is a much more “precise and exacting medium” than he expected it would be, and that “every line, every word is scrutinized” in a way he never imagined. But despite the challenges involved, Sting pressed on and fought to tell his story.
All artists can take a cue from Sting in putting aside fears of failure and seek out new challenges, for it is when we get outside our comfort-zone and actually risk ourselves that our creativity is fueled and we grow the most. What if our efforts wind up being a big flop? Then we can still celebrate our efforts to learn and try new things.
Sting’s new musical “The Last Ship” is about human relationships and the triumphs of a struggling shipbuilding community. It captures everyday life and displays its blemishes and glory. It unites people with its transparency of life. And those are things all artists can learn from.
What do artists like Sting teach you about creativity?