NaNoWriMo Wk 1 and Everyday Tip To Creative Flow

I’m now over 10,000 words deep into the National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo). I have no idea why I did this to myself. That’s not true—the first three days were torturous; slaving away at the lard mines to get my word count, but now, I’ve really settled into a good flow. I now break it up into bursts of 500 words in 15 minutes, roughly using the Pomodoro Technique. I even have remaining faculties left to do a blog post! It feels like any time I’ve started something new and immediately laborious: P90X, PaleoDiet, etc., all things that mandate a superior level of strenuousness. It’s not for forever. I’m already one-fifth of the way through. It doesn’t have to be good, and I don’t have to like it when I’m done. Just the word count. Very similar to the practice of MORNING PAGES.
As I’ve pointed out by now I’m an avid supporter of Morning Pages. There’re a few direct and slump-busting correlations with improving your songwriting (and your creativity in general). I can’t remember if someone mentioned it to me, or I came across it on some site, but Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way became a creative lifesaver. Maybe not the whole book (I think I lent it to a friend before I finished it [BTW—if you have my copy, bring it by!]) but the promoting of the practice of daily morning pages, among other things.

1) Hamstring The Internal Censor.

Art is only a means to life, to the life more abundant. It is not in itself the life more abundant. It merely points the way, something which is overlooked not only by the public, but very often by the artist himself. In becoming an end it defeats itself. —Henry Miller

It’s not a mystical thing, but the rewarding practice has proven to break me out of a long slumber of creativity. Going to school for a creative discipline, I think I may have let my internal Censor have his way with me. Further, taking a faculty position over the Songwriting Division, I think I subconsciously felt like I needed to be the bastion of songwriting perfection, that I needed to be the shining example of luminous songwriting with every piece I wrote. That pressure became crippling. Sure, I wrote. Even released records of material. More records sat collecting dust in the 1’s and 0’s of my hard drive. It was difficult to let ideas bloom without killing them in the crib, too afraid to see them grow into “bad” songs. What would that make me, if I wrote a bunch of “bad” songs?

*Without doing Morning Pages

2) There Will Always Be Another Song. (Or another short story, novel, novella, flash fiction piece, grocery list, you get it)

Jean Rhys said to an interviewer in the Paris Review, ‘Listen to me. All of writing is a huge lake. There are great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. And there are mere trickles, like Jean Rhys. All that matters is feeding the lake. I don’t matter. The lake matters. You must keep feeding the lake’. ― Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art

We realize your life is about committing to work, putting our hands to the plow and feeding the stream to the great lake of Civilization’s body of work. We begin to slowly, through the faithful everyday practice of writing, SEEING our writing accumulate. We see that there is always another day. Another 3 pages of thoughts, feelings, expression that no one has used as firepower to criticize us. We begin to apply that practice to the rest of our writing and Art-Work. I emphasize Art-Work, because we free ourselves to add to the lake, as Rhys says, of creative growth. Push the limits of the art form, stretch genres, movements, convention. We disappear, and with the fading of Ego, true work presents itself.

3) Practice Your Voice.

Good ideas present themselves while writing, rather than not. — Pat Pattison

Ideas don’t have to be that “good” in order to justify fleshing them out. We don’t have to wait for the perfect one to spend our energy on. Everybody knows, that when you read any advice from established writers in their fields and their first piece of advice is to write something. Everyday write. Be it a grocery list, notes from a class, a letter or email to a friend, or … the important thing is to exercize that muscle. As a singer learns a body of work to perform, their repertoire, and thusly learns their style and performance practices, we no longer second guess every creative voice (as much). You’re supposed to write the morning pages longhand, but I do it on the computer. 750 words. In fact, others feel the same, and somebody even came up with a cloud version.

and –

Reading: No time. Just writing.

Listening: New Jessie Ware, Tough Love

Watching: No time. Just writing.

4 Steps To Reducing Creativity Clutter TODAY

We all have too much going on, and when we force ourselves to sit down and write, we put up a million resistant reasons why we shouldn’t. Here are 4 things you can do to do your creative life a freakin’ favor.

1) You are a well with a bottom.

“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” — Flaubert

I am not a bottomless well of inspiration and creativity. Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way explores this in-depth. Can’t remember where, but this week I saw someone encourage artists to become more judicious with creative resources. If you’re dumping all your creativity into creative Twitter jokes, you’re taking away from other projects. That isn’t to say it’s not important to be hilarious, but to not wonder why you’re banging your head against the wall on your songs when you’ve spent all week being witty, trying to win the inter webs.


2) Be more You.

“The most destructive thing a musician can do is start worrying about whether or not other people will like the music. &#@$ other people. They’re not in the band. Just make music that stimulates you and don’t second-guess yourself.” – Steve Albini

Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), in a roundabout way of promoting his new [amazing] solo record Tweedy, talks with Joe Fassler about letting the subconscious blossom what it wants to and to try to make sense of it after. But that initial kernel of idea is the one that’s going to be closest to the emotional immediacy you crave. He said that he used a lot of the iPhone demos as basic tracks on the record.

3) Fredkin’s Paradox.

“The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one’s self. And the arbitrariness of the constraint serves only to obtain precision of execution. – Igor Stravinsky

The “Fredkin’s Paradox” principle declares, basically, that your decisions take longer the closer your options are to one another. Solution: Severe limitations—pre-decide in your work by deciding on a creative system. This paradox affects me deeply, so to guide my creative choices quickly creating Unreliable Narrator (coming soon, I promise!) I pre-decided to “always choose the weird way”.


4) Trust the Process.

“The good seed cannot flourish when it is repeatedly dug up for the purpose of examining its growth.” – J. C. Kromsigt

Therapy’s mantra mirrored back at patient is “to trust the process”. I can trust that despite current discomfort I am growing to where to a healthy place.


These are great things I’ve found leading me to creative health, hope they do the same for you. Until next time,


Listening: Beach Boys – Love You (2000 Remaster) – had only heard this spoked about pejoratively, but upon actually listening to it, I love the crap outta it. Like Guided By Voices playing Beach Boys Songs, or something.

Reading: Frank Miller’s Ronin

Watching: Orphan Black S1