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?
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.
Reading: No time. Just writing.
Listening: New Jessie Ware, Tough Love
Watching: No time. Just writing.