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.