I was cooking spaghetti for a couple of friends at an artist’s residency once. They showed up at my studio and deemed my efforts incomplete because a spaghetti strand, when thrown against the wall, wouldn’t stick. The spaghetti, they explained, was ready when the strand stuck to the wall.
I think of this as a good creative approach, too. Slam something out, throw it against the ears or eyes discerning public, and see if it sticks . . . to your own satisfaction, to the audience, and in the positive memories of your peers.
As a performing musician, over time I’ve learned to improvise better than I can actually play. What I mean is that I have more confidence in my ability to improvise instead of playing set melodies fixed arrangements note for note. Even if I tank completely on an improv, and I do, I’m more willing to shrug off the solo and add it to overall playing experience. I throw the solo out there and see if it sticks.
When composing I try to take the same attitude and to experiment with ideas and hope that they stick – to my satisfaction, an audience, or in the positive memories of my peers. And if it doesn’t, well, there’s always the next composition.