Monday, April 11, 2011

The Flow

Many of us have experienced "writer's block," and any bookstore is replete with writings on the topic, which of course is ironic in and of itself.

As a guitar player, piano player, singer and songwriter, the music itself often comes easily. Whether I like what comes through is a separate topic, but the general flow of the music tends to remain steady. Historically, all this changes when I pick up a pen.

I used to believe that the great songwriting masters - from Mozart to Dylan, Simon to Newman - could write an epic tale while simultaneously making a sandwich because they had something I so clearly did not. Yet as I have lately begun doing my homework to learn more about them and their respective songwriting processes I have become aware of how damn hard they all work at the craft. This information brings me great joy, and has helped me learn something important about myself: Not only do I need to work at this writing endeavor, but I need to learn how I work best.

As I mentioned before, nothing quite stops the creative juices from flowing as sitting with a pen in hand, staring at a blank piece of paper. I'm not sure what it is about this arrangement, but I feel intimidated by the space on the page, I try to hard to write something brilliant instead of just writing, and I end up writing very little or nothing at all.

Recently, I've discovered a new way of getting into the flow - the creative energy that seems to be in the surrounding all the time, waiting for me to tap into it. Since I know the music tends to come more naturally, I have started using what works. It might be sort of a DUH! moment, but I find that when I turn on my recording platform (Garage Band on my mac), and just start playing, the words start fumbling out of me if I can stay out of the way (read: keep my mind quiet). I was working with this format the other night and now I have literally hours of tape to roll back through, transcribing the lyrics and separating the usable phrases from the gibberish.

Some may accuse me of outright blasphemy, but as I learn to work hard at my writing, I see less and less separation between myself and Paul Simon, Michael Hedges, Bruce Springsteen, and Bob Dylan. And that makes me happy.

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