Clearing The Deck

Do you ever find you try to write but mentally have too many distractions? Too many other things your brain thinks you should be doing?

Sometimes it’s just a case of taking a deep breath and casting extraneous thoughts aside, and concentrating.

But sometimes I think those other thoughts are there for a good reason. They are telling you what needs doing first before you get started on the work.

I call this ‘Clearing the Deck‘.

In the same way that it makes sense to wash dishes between meals, before you start cooking another one, you have to tidy away your old project and clear up the dust and tools etc so that you have a clean workplace ready for the next.

This is true for me at least, I can’t work in chaos.

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

In the case of songwriting, I can’t sit and churn out songs one after another. It does not flow naturally for me that way no matter how much work I put into it, and comes out forced and short of breath if I hammer this method home.

There are other factors in the equation, such as playing the song, getting to know it, finding out what key and tempo works best for me, demoing the song and getting all of my ideas about it straight so that I can clear my head and leave the work alone. Then I can move on – and that’s just the creative side.

It’s a bit like the Muse story. I need to take care of the songs otherwise what’s the point?

So the past month I have been demoing old songs, making that pile smaller, digging through old notebooks for rough posts I’ve written, poems I’ve left untouched and uncared for – tidying them and even went to a poetry open mic to read a few of them out.

I’m trying to empty myself out to let new things flow in.

This might seem illogical – getting better at writing songs by not writing, but I’ve gotten one step further along in my path. I have found a way to banish extraneous notions and concepts of how and when, where and what a songwriter should be doing, and instead know more about what works for me, and of equal importance, eliminating some of the things that don’t work for me.

I’ve cleared my horizons somewhat and had a breather, so that I can start writing again with renewed focus and vigour. It might be toughter initially, but maybe I’ve just followed the natural ebb and flow of my creativity, or at least tried to correct it, suffering as it was from improper use and partial neglect.

Most of all, I’m feeling less clogged up.




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