I discovered the Beatles later than most. Aside from the 1 CD I bought in 2000 (which, incidentally, was the best seller of 2000 and 2001 and is the top-selling album of the 21st century so far), I had little familiarity with their story or songs. So, I did what any music fan (or obsessive nerd) does: I purchased a 1,000+ page biography of the band by Bob Spitz and the official Apple collection of all their CDs, and then proceeded to work my way through the text while listening to every album as it appeared chronologically. By the end, I was astonished at the leaps and bounds this group made—with their creative reinventions and catalog of iconic songs—within a short six-year span of time.

Peter Jackson’s Get Back, an eight-hour documentary on the Beatles on Disney+, is a gift to the megafans. It offers us the chance to be a fly on the wall, to sit in on the sessions for some of the Beatles’s final songs, to watch their interactions and their playfulness, to observe the dynamics of these dynamos in action.

More than that, it offers anyone—Beatles fan or not—the chance to see the birth of new music. Perhaps you saw that extraordinary clip of Paul jamming away for a couple of minutes on his guitar, and the chill-inducing moment when the first sounds of “Get Back” begin to emerge, and a melody presents itself, as if out of thin air.

I’m not much of a musician, as much as I might love singing and playing my guitar. But as a writer and speaker, I know what it’s like to be tasked with creating something that didn’t exist before. If you’re in a role or enjoy hobbies that require you to be creative in some way, I hope you’ll find a few takeaways in my reflections on this documentary.

1. Don’t settle too early.

At one point, Paul continues to refine a song, to the chagrin of those who think it’s already fine. It’s already “together,” he’s told, to which he replies, “It’s together until you think you can do it better.” In other words, Yes it’s fine, but what if it can be great?

The lesson? Keep improving your craft. Don’t settle too early. The host of This American Life, Ira Glass, has a famous quote on creativity and “the gap”:

“All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. . . . It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. . . . It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

Fight your way through. It’s together, yes, until you think you can do it better. Keep up the work.

2. Return to past sources of inspiration.

Many times in Get Back when the band seems to be in a rut or not sure what to work on next, we see them return to songs they’ve sung and played before. They play some of their old tunes, or they return to the earlier days of rock and roll and play some of their favorites. While looking for inspiration, they return to the well, to draw from artists and melodies that inspired them in the past.

The lesson? When you feel stuck, go back to what you love, those sources of earlier inspiration. As a writer, when I’m gearing up for a writing weekend or working on a new project, I return to a few books that inspire me because of how well-written they are. Find whatever lights the fire.

3. Expect boredom during ‘the grind.’

Even fans of the Beatles admitted that Get Back dragged at times, in part because the creative process often is a grind. At times, it’s boring, not inspiring. But that’s an indispensable part of the journey. You’ve got to put the time in. Don’t wait for inspiration; work for inspiration. When you feel like you’ve got something—a little idea, a taste of something good, a point that needs to be made—you keep playing with it and arranging it in different forms until you find it feels right.

I mentioned above the astonishing moment when the riff and melody for “Get Back” first comes into existence. But that’s just the beginning. Over the next few days, the song takes shape. It gets plied and molded every which way, with different lyrics and sounds, as the band tests it and determines what it’s supposed to sound like. Our jaws drop in awe at the birth of the melody, but it’s the boring “grinding” aspect of trying out variations that made it iconic.

4. Alternate between isolation and community.

Get Back is about collaboration: we see Paul and John make each other’s songs better; we see George get help on “Something,” or Ringo bring up “Octopus’s Garden,” or Paul ask someone about the right word for “The Long and Winding Road.” We see the collaboration and the beauty of it (especially when Billy Preston arrives, and his talent and exuberance greatly enhance these sessions).

But what we don’t see also matters. We don’t see the birth of “Let It Be” or “The Long and Winding Road,” because those songs didn’t originate during a collaborative session. Paul worked on them on his own and then brought them to the group for improvement.

This alternation between isolation and community was a key takeaway from Get Back. Brainstorming, collaborative sessions may give you some inspiration, but at some point, you’ve got to be on your own, doing the deep work of creative thinking in isolation.

To all the poets and writers and artists out there, I hope these four takeaways about creativity from Get Back aid you in your craft. Keep up the good work, and remember, it’s work.

If you would like my future articles sent to your email, as well as a curated list of books, podcasts, and helpful links I find online, enter your address.