Thursday, March 1, 2012
I write songs and stories. I’ve written a lot of them over the years. But, occasionally, I get what is commonly called “writer’s block.” The ideas just don’t materialize, and it can be a long time between. If I wrote these things for a living this could be unnerving. But I don’t really let it bother me too much.
But I still wonder why it happens. What causes the creative juices to dry up? What causes them to flow? You think you know sometimes, but it’s really hard to say.
I recently had a long stretch of no songs. Six or seven months. Don’t know why. Wasn’t sure what to do about it. Would I ever write another one? But there were no ideas, no sounds ringing in my head, no nothing. Then, last week, I had a vague idea. I could hear something going on. Think of it like this: you hear a song off in the distance, not clearly, but you think you might recognize it, so you try to move closer to it to figure out what it is. That’s what it’s like, except it’s in your head. And this is where learning the craft of song writing helps. If you have some tools, some skill with chord progressions and melodic structure, you can use those things to trace a path and get where you need to go.
I put a few things down on the recorder. They were very clunky and forced. Horrible really. And then I gave up because it just wasn’t working. I went to work on some other things. Checking emails. Making some calls. Reading the Bible and another book I’ve been reading about leadership. Working on some ideas for teaching. And then, boom, I had a song, almost complete, words and music. I had to trim it a bit and hammer it out a bit, but it came together really fast and seems to work. We played it last Sunday and it clicked pretty well.
Now, I know I must have set my brain in the right direction by hammering on some things ahead of time. But this shift from no ideas at all, to writing things that aren’t working, and then having something that does seem to work just rising up like a bubble out of the water: it’s something I can’t explain. It’s like gears falling into place. It makes me think of one of those games where you set it up and the marble rolls through the thing, around the curves and such, and how you have to set it up right or the marble doesn’t make it all the way to the end. So you keep at it until you finally have a flow that works.
It’s kind of weird and inscrutable, but wonderful. It happens to me, I experience it, but I find it really hard to articulate. As you have just seen.
Peace to you.
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