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  • Writer's picturePaul Cotter

The Whisper

Early morning fog surrounds bare trees and a bench on a hilltop.

SHHHHHHHHHH! Let your mind go quiet. Listen. When we do, we can tap into a source of creativity that’s far beyond anything we can generate on our own. That’s what many of the world’s most gifted artists tell us.


Several authors have said that when they’re truly writing “in the zone," it’s as if they’re being guided by a whisper. They say it feels like they’re taking dictation and the words are simply flowing through them. This same phenomenon has been described by other artists in other creative fields.


Rock guitarist Carlos Santana said, “Once you surrender to (the music), it’ll play you.”


Another guitarist watched a video of a young Eric Clapton performing and observed this: “Look at Eric’s face just before he starts his guitar solo. It looks like he’s about to enter into deep prayer.”


It's clear that something profound and mysterious is at work when we engage in any form of creativity. According to his daughter Barbara, the legendary photographer Wynn Bullock would enter into a meditative state before taking pictures. This preparation allowed him to disengage his rational mind and shoot from a deeper place of pure instinct and intuition.


Looking back on my four decades in photography, I see that I do my best work when I'm in the meditative state that Wynn Bullock described: totally absorbed in what I'm doing, being guided by the whisper. During one of my favorite photo sessions, I was so immersed that afterwards I had no real memory of taking the pictures. The next day, I went back to the location and felt as if it had all been a dream.


We like to think we’re “creative“ and we like to put our names on the things that we produce. But perhaps we should be giving more credit to the whisper. I’ll leave you ponder what that whisper may be.

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