Imperfection, Resistance, Songwriting, Writing

Once I start, what will I fall in love with?

Looking at a blank page, it’s easy to believe nothing I do will be very good or measure up to what I’ve done in the past. Yet most things I’ve done in the past started with a similar blank page, while I experienced similar feelings of anxiety.   

Waiting to feel good about what I create has rarely made the work good. But starting has.  

An idea rarely feel great when I begin. Most ideas are barely an idea when I begin. It’s an hour or two later when I look back on what’s been created that I feel satisfaction and enjoyment with the work. (And if the work is good, I’ve generally forgotten all about “me” at some point in the effort).

Telling myself I was inspired when I started is usually a lie, and a dangerous one. Most work I do starts in uncertainty and trepidation. But picking up the pen or pencil and starting to write, or draw lines on the page is how that trepidation begins to take same and solidify into the Work.   

The question isn’t; “Can I think of anything good to create.” It’s; “Once I start, what will I fall in love with?”

Here’s an update on the incomplete drawing from Monday. The progress is in the bicycle which has been a little better defined, and is now blue. “Slow and steady wins the race;” my second grade teacher used to say.

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Practice, Songwriting, The Muse, Writing

Skipping Stones

It’s fun to skip stones across the surface of a lake or pond. It’s a challenge. How many skips can you get?  Talking about songwriting with a friend the other day that image popped into my mind.  

To me it seems that sometimes I when return to a theme again and again tt’s a bit like skipping stones. The idea skims across the surface of all the songs I’ve written until it plunks beneath the surface and “sinks in.”

This is an advantage to writing many songs. We all have our predilections, and ideas that we return to again and again. My sense is the more I write, the more clarity and insight I gain on any one of those themes or ideas. Each song I write is a chance to hone in on a message, for the song to plunk beneath the surface and sink in.

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Self Love, Songwriting, Writing

Writing is a gift

A while ago, I began writing the word “gift” on the page on which I’m songs. (Or, when forget, midway through). It’s a small reminder. The gift could be for me, or for someone else. I aspire to offer some small joy, insight or surprise in what gets written. I want it to be something a person will find useful and fun. 

Socks are useful, but aren’t fun. Revenge can be fun, (or exhilarating at least), but it’s not useful. A good gift offers some amount of joy. A great gift offers a quality of inevitability and surprise, something wanted but unimagined. 

That’s hard to find of course, but it’s worth seeking out. And aiming for that target I’m likely to stay away gifting socks, revenge, or self-serving cleverness. Writing “gift” aims me toward what I can offer and generosity.

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Imperfection, Practice, Writing

Letting the Dough Rise

A friend was writing about sourdough bread and creativity.  How setting out the dough to rise reminded them of setting a project aside for a for a bit to let it develop, to let the subconscious work its creative magic. This sparked a few things for me. 

One is that the yeast and sugar will do its thing with the flour in the dough without any intervention on my part. I can trust the process to work. The same is true of creativity. Once I start the process of writing, (assuming I see the process through), I’ll get my loaf of bread.  

Also, it’s no help to the process if I intervene, trying to raise the dough faster. Here I’m thinking about how my ego will try to engineer great writing with thoughts and strategy. Thoughts and strategy aren’t writing. (Sitting down and writing is writing). The process is consistent.  Write a draft, quickly. Then walk away for a while. When I sit down again for draft two, improvements are obvious.  

But finally, and most important, when I decide the dough is no good and throw it out before I’m done, I don’t get any bread.  

Success! You’re on the list.
Boundaries, Inherent Self-Worth, Self Love, Songwriting, Writing

Self-Love, in the Third Person

Recentlly I heard Mark Brackett on Brené Brown’s podcast. He touched an an interesting idea. He said a study was done that showed people are kinder in how they speak to themselves when they speak in the third person.   

As someone who aspires to beat myself less that’s exciting to me. But speaking in the third person has a bad rap. It’s often portrayed as foolish and grandiose. What if it could be merely loving? 

Daniel Coyle in his “Little Book of Talent” talks about looking for good models of the skill we want to develop in ourselves, and then deeply watching and studying how they do it. Who could I look at deeply as a model of self-love? 

Elizabeth Gilbert.  She was on “The Tim Ferriss Show” recently. She said; “part of my sense of stewardship and friendship over myself is that I try to do really nice things for Liz and I try to do really nice things for future Liz.”  

There it is. She’s offers herself friendship and stewardship and it’s in the third person. She said; “I try to do really nice things for Liz and for Future Liz.” 

Here’s a little bit more, in which she’s talking about for her books.

“I’ll find some really great detail and I’ll write it on a card and I’ll be like, oh, my God, future Liz is going to be so psyched when she finds this card three years from now because she’s going to be writing the scene and she’s going to be stuck and she’s going to reach in and she’s going to pull out this detail and she’s going to be like, ‘Ah, yes.’” 

“And then what happens is that while I’m writing, I’ll reach in and I’ll find some amazing card with a great piece of dialogue on it or a great detail that really helps with the scene and I’ll be like, thanks, past Liz, you’re the best. And it’s this little salute across time where past Liz is like, I got you babe and future Liz is like, thank you for looking out for me, you’re the best.”

(There’s lots of great tidbits throughout the Tim Ferriss’s interview of Liz.  The quotes above start a bit after minute fifty ).

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