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Wednesday, April 3, 2013


“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”― Stephen King, On Writing

I love this quote, but if I live by it, I have to put myself in the amateur category. 

My songwriting process usually goes like this:
1) I'm screw around at the piano for funsies, come up with a phrase I like, and build a song around it.
2) A lyric comes to me and I build a song around it.
3) A melody comes to me, perhaps complete with lyrics, and I build a song around it.

I'm grateful to be flexible enough to have multiple processes, but all of them rely on waiting for inspiration. I've never sat down and said, "Okay, time to write a song. Let's get to work." The song has always chosen me.

So now I'm trying to work on a musical. Big huge exciting project! But also incredibly daunting. I just feel so stuck! I want to write the songs, I think about writing them all the time, but nothing just "comes" to me. 

I've worn this groove in my brain of being dragged around by inspiration. More than once, I've gone a year without writing a song because inspiration never struck. But when it does strike, time flies. A song comes out in a magical process that I barely remember afterward, making me ask if I actually wrote that song at all. And when it's done, the song just feels right.

Forcing a song into existence, however, is not so fun. At least not yet. I'm going against the grain here, pulling teeth. And I'm addicted to the rightness of an inspired song. Every lyric I have to work for feels wrong, limp.

But. I don't want to be just the broken confessional songwriter anymore. I want to be a pro. And to be a pro I will have to learn to create without a blessing from an inspiration fairy. 

So. I'm going to sit down and write. Every morning. Even if I come up with nothing. I need to wear new grooves in my brain, and the only way to do that is by being uncomfortable.

What about you? Can you work without inspiration? How does it feel? Any tricks/tips/encouragement?