Keepin’ On

It’s so much fun to have a new project or song or idea in my head. My brain desires to be captivated & chewing on something delicious as often as possible. As an Artist it’s important for me to have something in the works, always stirring & devising, arranging & producing, to be playing with sounds & words & textures just thrills me.

I like to do it as often as possible because it’s as necessary & satisfying as eating & sleeping & breathing. I also feel that it is as easy to jump into the creative flow, as it is to plug an AC cord into the wall outlet to get power.

There’s a need for a decision, then an action of doing & some patience & allowing & then there’s the muse hanging with me while I play with words or instruments or plans as to what to do with all those words & music ideas. The inspiration always shows up when I do. We’re connected. So are you.

It’s trust, it’s intuition, and it’s fun & repetition. It’s habit & then confidence and there is always another part of it all to work on, to enjoy, and to spend time with.

When Joni Mitchell couldn’t find a music or lyric idea she’d paint. When the painting felt uncertain she’d go back to music. I bounce around to different instruments, new song ideas, older unfinished ideas & whatever feels interesting to me.

Sometimes Artists are afraid of too much freedom & too many choices. But I find it fascinating how we can start off with a blank page & blank recording & out of the infinite choose pieces, begin a puzzle, realize a form & direction & theme & finish a lyric or melody or progression. I love making those choices, taking my ear by surprise & pleasing myself & by getting tickled by the joy of it all. You have to show up & start, narrow it down, decide & add to it till it’s done.

I usually finish a new song in an hr or less. The whole thing: chords, melody & lyrics. I started writing songs at 10 yrs old & have written over the years in every order, from many different starting points. I love finding new ways to jump into the creative playground & have a go at it. When I hear another writer’s habits & process I like visiting their approach to get into the creative place in a new way. So if one attempt isn’t as effortless I can try another.

Since July of ’09 I’ve written a whole cd’s worth of new songs that I’m very excited about. Most were brand new ideas. Rescuing & finally getting to use a stranded verse or chorus or riff from the past became 3 finished songs. To my own amazement the new finished bits fit so well they sounded like they belonged together all along and two were ideas that I had had hanging around a long time. One was 7 years old. One was 12 years old & now these bits are finished whole songs. Lyrically 2 songs needed more life experience to unfold before I knew what to say. Another song got over it’s “I don’t know what I’m going to be” by co-writing with a friend.

I had been releasing digital singles through 2007 & 2008. I would write, record & release it to iTunes, boom, done. I was getting a kick out of making the picture sleeves for them, getting to use my photographs for each. I’d also been asking everyone, “Do you prefer to buy digital downloads or CDs these days”? Everyone was about 50/50 on this and so I have just worked on a CD visual layout for all those singles plus 2 unreleased songs and the full length CD will be called, Playing With The Pieces.

I have been recording the basic tracks to all the new songs as I wrote them since last July & that cd will come out this year as well. I want to call it Blast of Love. It was a fun phrase & when I heard it, I instantly thought it would make a cool title for my next CD & it would also be a great title song. So I sat down & wrote a song called Blast of Love.

It’s play. It’s easy. It’s just picking up instruments & letting yourself fly. It’s playing with all those pieces & choices & picking the bits & parts you love best & putting them all together. It’s giving it time & space to get a new perspective & point of view & seeing if you still like what you hear and if not, asking what does this need? Even asking the song itself. “Song, what do you want? Tell me your bass line. What do you want me to say here? How should I end it?”

One time I just deliberately sat down with 3 new songs & said, ok endings, find them, because these aren’t going to fade out. They want definite endings & boom the ideas just came. You have to decide what you need & what’s missing so you can find the solution. You have to let yourself begin and continue & then finish. If you’re happy with it, it’s good.

If you’re hungry you find things that are edible to eat. If you have a destination desire you get in your car & get there. It’s the same with writing. If you want to write words, play with words, visit with them & see which ones describe what you desire to say. If you want to write harmony & melody you have to play with chords & melodies & get to know the emotional side of the frequencies you’re choosing. If you are moved by your choices someone else will genuinely be moved & they are your true listeners & fans. They get goose bumps when you do. If they don’t they may never be converted. Doesn’t matter. People who dig what you do are out there. Some prefer strawberry; some prefer chocolate it’s about natural connection & being heard on a cellular level. But you have to dig it first. Your own connection to your art is what matters most & allowing your self to have that connection every day keeps you sane, engaged & fulfilled.

Writers say to me they don’t have time & they haven’t been playing or writing or jumping into their art at all. Why not? You sleep & eat everyday. Why not let yourself have what you love? Even if you sketched, played, wrote for 15 min everyday you’d have more ideas to play with than piling up years of nothing & disappointment.

It takes 28 days to break a habit & 28 days to start a habit. Waiting around for bolts of lightning, “when inspiration strikes”, isn’t consistent enough for me. I don’t want to be so numbed to creative kindling that I have to be struck out of my regular life routine to catch a creative idea. I love being in it all the time. Staying warmed up & expecting keeps me receptive & eager & open & bolts of lightning happen every day & many times a day. There’s healthy respect that we need to have for the muse & when ideas do come I catch them on paper, recordings, videos & have a source to go back to if I’m in the middle of something else. Then when I am free to experiment & play with the pieces I have a starting place. The overwhelming infinite possibilities have been narrowed down; I have a new idea to run with.

I have videos on YouTube about the creative process too. I can talk about it forever. It’s one of my favorite subjects. I believe it’s the life force I’m admiring so we all have it or we wouldn’t be breathing. Flow with it. Let it in to your every day experience instead of complaining. Show up. Invite the muse for tea & visit together. Stop being at odds with yourself. Splash, just make one. Nike, just do it, weave some wonder.

You feel terrible when you’re out of sync with yourself & a huge part of it for many creative people is they call themselves writers or players & never write or play. Deep down this bothers them big time. So change that. You’re the only one who can. Worse, they stop calling themselves writers & players & accept the tortured existence of being a creative human that has no outlet or art form. John Lennon said, “I can’t wake up you. You wake up you”.

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