habit zero #077



Last night I went to see one of my favorite Israeli artists: Rona Kenan. It’s been almost eight years since she released her previous solo album. A lot has happened in this time, and as often is the case, you don’t realize that something is missing until it comes back into your life, even for a short time. That’s how I felt when a few weeks ago a new song by Rona Kenan showed up in my Spotify recommendations.

At some point during the show, Rona talked about the time it took her to work on her upcoming album. Significant part of this time, she said, was dedicated to experimenting — trying to do something new. She tried to learn to play a piano; she bought a selection of musical instruments she was not comfortable with; she challenged herself with artificial writing challenges; and threw away dozens of drafts for new songs.

Until one day she had an idea. She took her acoustic guitar — the one she used to write most of her songs with throughout the years; she drove to her mother’s house, looked at the beautiful view around her, and wrote the first song in her next album.

After hearing three songs from that future album I dare say it will be an amazing, penetrating artwork.


A few years ago, I concluded a year-long photography project called Portrait of a Street. It was experimental for me both because of the strict format I defined — 52 artworks, each one inspired by a street in Tel-Aviv — and because of the technique I used which I had no previous experience with. I loved the result, but when I concluded this project, I felt I had to define an even greater challenge for my next one.

Just like Rona Kenan, I experimented with different methods and concepts, but they all felt mechanical. I didn’t manage to connect to what I came up with at any level. Until I decided to go back to basic. I went out for a photo walk with the goal of telling the story of people I had never met using simple black-and-white photos of the places they lived and worked in as they are seen from the street. That was the beginning of my Real Estate project.

There was nothing new in my working method, or the tools I used, or even the idea itself, and yet I felt this was my best projects yet.


In 1986, New Order released the album Brotherhood which featured the song Bizarre Love Triangle. Like other songs in this album, it mixed rock-like guitar tracks with electronic music. You could dance to it. You could sing with it. You could listen to the lyrics… once you got past the wrapping.

It was beautiful.

Eight years later, I was driving my car when a few notes played on an acoustic guitar caught my attention. They sounded familiar, but they felt new. I turned up the volume and was struck by a heartbreaking female voice singing the lyrics I almost didn’t notice in the original song.

Frente!’s version of Bizarre Love Triangle was so sad and complete. I felt like I am standing in the same room with the singer. I could hear her breath between the sentences. It was perfect. Simple, basic, and perfect.

We often associate creativity with stepping out of our comfort zone — with doing something new which the world has not seen yet (or at least something we have not done yet). Experimentation is an important part of creativity, but we must not forget that it is not the goal. It is also not the only way to be creative.

There’s a huge difference between experimenting and experiencing. Experiences feed creativity but many experiences are basic and fundamental. You can do amazing magical stuff with simple tools and methods. You don’t have to revolutionize the way you work — to get out of your comfort zone. Sometimes, you just need to imagine and connect.

And the same applies to any challenge that requires a touch of creativity. Don’t force yourself out of your comfort zone just for the sake of it. You can come up with amazing ideas — ideas that can even change the world — right there in the place you feel most comfortable at.

There’s nothing bad about groundbreaking new methods and tools, of course. Sometimes that is exactly what you need to take a giant leap forward. Sometimes, but not always. The biggest leaps we make are often the result of nothing more than a new association, an image created in our imagination, or merely noticing something nobody has noticed before.

mental notes


  • You don’t have to step out of your comfort zone just for the sake of it.
  • Creativity can benefit from going back to basics.

now it is your turn… be creative!



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