As a musician, for me, songs are what it’s all about. I’ve always identified with being a “singer/songwriter” so it’s really line one of the job description. I’ve come up with quite a few songs that I like by just sitting down and deciding to write a song on a whim, or having a creative vision for a song in an almost complete form. But these strategies are at worst, horribly difficult and draining, and at best, not very dependable.
Writer’s block is something that has puzzled me and so many of my peers, and writers throughout history. It’s a universal feeling to sit down and have nothing. Like opening up a bottle of tasty carbonated beverage to the grim realization that it’s gone flat, it can be a crushing blow to one’s creative confidence. It’s an elusive beast, but one that I think can be tamed, saddled, and rode off into the sunset.
One of the most repeated and cliched pieces of advice that I’ve received over the years is “if you want to be a writer, write.” It’s really excellent advice, and all you really need, practically, to get up and get moving. But there are some prerequisites beyond pen, paper, and a commanding grasp of your native tongue. As in all endeavors, setting goals is very helpful as well, but if you’re stuck staring at a blank white page, any goal will seem too lofty.
Many books have been written on building creative confidence. Or a few, at least. In a songwriting workshop by Rocky Votolato and Kris Orlowski, they mention The Artists Way by Julia Cameron, which is a great, practical place to start, full of exercises to uncover the dormant artist within. Also among their suggestions was Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, which I found to be very eye opening. Who knew that vulnerability could be interpreted as strength, and not weakness? Baring your soul can be terrifying, but also invigorating. Stage fright can be transmuted into stage excitement.
What has helped me most is a three pronged approach: keep the pen moving, keep a large goal in focus, and an immediate objective in front of you. If all of these three gears are moving together, it’s easy to stir inspiration out of daily experiences. If you’re already writing, when it happens, you will capture it. An immediate objective jump-starts you to get to work and turn your writing into more than just scribbles. And focusing on a larger goal keeps you in check between songs so you don’t fall down any rabbit holes that are too deep. (Like, oh I don’t know, planning a trip to Boston, or starting a blog.)
Oh yeah, MINDSET. That’s the most important part, I think. But that’s for another entry.