It’s easy to equate understanding with creativity. We read Hemingway or stare at a Rothko and think “I could do that.” The better-executed a piece of art is, the more natural it seems. The best make it look easy.

As a trained musician, I can listen to a pop song and more or less understand it. I can grasp its structure, hear how the instruments work together, and write out the chords pretty accurately.

But that doesn’t mean I can write a good pop song. I used to think it did—until I tried to write a couple. It’s much harder than it looks.

“I could do that.” “Yeah, but you didn’t.”

Actually, we couldn’t.

Respect creativity.