Looking at the stars in the Cederberg Mountains, South Africa. © Laura Elizabeth Pohl

You know how when you love a song, you play it on repeat, annoying all those around you? That’s me with the original Broadway cast recording of “Hamilton.” I listen to it over and over on Spotify whenever I’m immersed in creative work that doesn’t require me to focus hard, things like color-correcting photos or researching video footage.

As I listen to each brilliant song, I’m acutely aware of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s creative genius in crafting these pop and hip-hop lyrics about the life of America’s first treasury secretary—a topic that you wouldn’t think would be so interesting. Just listening to the songs and thinking about Miranda’s process, I’m so inspired to create and collaborate.

Lately, I always listen to “Hamilton” starting with “Dear Theodosia,” which is a duet between frenemies Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr about halfway through the soundtrack. But last week, for the first time in over a year, I listened to “Hamilton” from the beginning.

Irrational! Daring!

But honestly, I wouldn’t have done it if it hadn’t been for an assignment for my memoir writing workshop with Sally Cranswick. Her exact directions were to “do something different.” She stressed it didn’t have to be something huge, just something that changed our perspective.

What I got out of Sally’s assignment is that sometimes a tiny shift in our perspective can spark our creativity.

When I listened to “Hamilton” from the beginning, I realized how much I enjoy some of those early songs, especially “Helpless” and “Satisfied,” which tell the same story from two points of view—meaning they’re actually different stories. It gave me ideas about how I might apply the same technique to a collaborative photo or writing project. And all it took was a small change in how I approached a simple activity.

Of course, now I’m in a rut listening to the “Hamilton” soundtrack from the first song over and over. Maybe I’ll go back to starting with “Dear Theodosia” and see what new ideas come flowing.