Leonard Cohen’s first album, Songs Of Leonard Cohen, turns 50 this year. The late, great Zen poet was a master of his craft and a man who never let his creativity stop moving. When I listen to his lyrics or read his words, I can’t help but think, “Man I wish I’d written that.”

I can’t go back and steal his poetry, but I can use his philosophies for being creative. Cohen made a lot of beautiful music, but he also shared plenty of wise words on the craft of songwriting. Here are 11 laws of creativity I stole from Leonard Cohen:

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The other day, I beat my girlfriend, Ava at Gin Rummy 7 times in a row!

Our tournament started a few months ago in the Galapagos Islands. Warm ocean water, friendly sea lions, and no WiFi (gasp!). So, when it’d get too hot, we’d find shade and play cards.

We traveled for 3 months and learned that we had to mix adventure and relaxation with real PLAY.

It wasn’t just cards. We’d go bowling. Find water slides. Only speak to each other in foreign accents. Anything to stay playful. Anything to be silly.

When I play, time becomes invisible. I forget about goals and lists. I become a human being. Not just a human doing.

Sometimes I forget to play.

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As a music lover, I’ve always been drawn towards the darkness. Not the black-metal, hail-satan type of darkness, but anything that holds that unsettling urgency of angst or rebellion. I embraced the punk-rock mentality of Us vs Them from the get-go. My favorite albums were always the ones with the most menace. It was Zeppelin over The Beatles. Rawness over melody. It was that possessed quality in Cobain’s voice that kept me up all night, learning to play Nevermind from front to back on guitar.

There was never any casual listening in my bedroom. Music for me was an all or nothing endeavor. I didn’t dance. There was no swaying under the palm trees to a feel-good beat. I needed to be fully steeped in the sounds of the angst I felt. I needed to feel haunted.

But that was then. These days, it’s harder to connect with the primal scream of my youth. I do my best to keep up with the new stuff, and every now and then I’ll hear something different that turns me on. But it’s been awhile since I’ve felt fully consumed by the uneasy feeling of a record reaching up from the depths and shaking my soul. That grit and grime of over-distorted, palm-muted paranoia that seemed to expedite puberty.

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