22 February at 16:21 · Today someone wrote to me interested in how to get past creative blocks with regards to writing lyrics, getting caught up in style, and perfectionism. My top-o'-the-mind thoughts, below:
For me, the thing about songwriting (or drawing, or lovemaking) is that the conscious mind can really interfere with creative potency unless it's kept in check...or put to good use as an archivist/stenographer!
Dry spells come about when I'm disconnected from who I am and what I want...or perhaps trying too hard to be or produce something. Writing songs is great, but usually the end result of other activities. Are you doing enough things in your life that you enjoy? That challenge, inspire, care for you? Anything in these directions seems to benefit creativity.
As charming as styles can be, I would say don't get stuck on style...style grows out of content, not the other way around. If you focus on content...on what you want to say, you may be able to find a way to work that into a style that you like later on.
Don't rush yourself. There's not really a schedule for songs. For every finished song I've made, there are ten that aren't complete...whether it's words, melody, accompaniment, not finding the right meter. The longer I do this, the more I work like a collage artist, saving 'bits' to play with over time, that may come together and form something new or stay in the rag bag for years. If you can collect things you like, without pressuring them too hard to become something complete, and keep record of them, whether through recording, writing down lyrics, etc., you'll have more to play with and get more of a sense of what interests you / what you have to say.
Also, practice. Practice in various aspects. Most importantly, practice 'losing your mind'...which could mean walking in the woods, leaving the cell phone behind, wandering through an unknown neighborhood, pulling over on the side of a road, lying in the grass or on a floor...letting your intuition guide you down paths, letting your interest determine where you go and how long you stay...this is a really important practice in allowing yourself to settle in and trust yourself. Bring a notebook (or, okay, a cell phone) so you can write / record ideas as they come to mind. Songwriters are really songcatchers...writing is only part of it. Honor your senses and what they bring you. Try to catch whiffs of melodies, words, ideas, without judgement. It's a simple practice, but also a commitment.
On the perfecting end of things...some of these skills are useful, too. Practicing an instrument, or singing, or just playing around with rhyming, rhythm, etc. will help keep your toolbox in good order when you need it.
That's what's on the top of my mind. Thank you for the opportunity to reflect on this today. A lot of what I've typed are reminders for myself, too! Life/art are practices. Gentleness and curiosity go a long way.
Her website: http://www.dianecluck.info/