Songwriting Challenge Week 9

The last slump is over (for now) and has been replaced by a renewed sense of possibility.

 

I finished an old song I had lying around that I had chords, structure and a melody for, but could never manage to get words for that did it justice. It always felt trite, corny, twee – like a kid with his pants round his ankles.

This time I think I managed to distil a little bit of wine and some suburban country sadness in there. I finished it but I’m still not feeling it. Maybe it was just one of those things where you have to write to get it clear and on with the next thing. Maybe I just left it too long since the initial idea and I’m just a different person now.

 

I tried writing one of the days this week, the day I finished the song in fact, by setting up a mic, picking up the guitar and just trying to play my way through unfinished songs – remembering the memorable lyrics, making up the rest as I went along, going with feel and momentum. It wasn’t exactly 100% gold but it dragged up some interesting stuff. When you’re forced to react, it can be a lot nicer than sitting around scratching your chin for clever lyrics, and when re-examining half-finished older stuff certainly cuts through to which bits are memorable and which are not.

 

I’ve been reading ‘Flow’ by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and have had a lot of personal thoughts and experiences that fit with what is being said. Just looking at the diagram below has made me realize a few things about how I’ve been approaching music and how to maintain focus.

 

 

Problems arise for one of two reasons:

1)      I’m attempting too many things at once, or something overly ambitious – resulting in anxiety

2)      I set tasks that are not engaging, exciting or challenging enough – resulting in boredom.

 

When challenge and skill are adequately matched, heavens collide and Lord, I am changed.

…and songs get finished.

 

One of the ideas that has been playing heavily on my mind is to do with my not setting specific defined challenges, targets and rules for each song I’ve been working on, which in turn hampers progress because there are too many variables to explore. Not knowing what the goal is, I become anxious about my lack of ability to write and am left bewildered. I need to be clearer with my targets, intentions and so forth.

 

I don’t think as human beings any scenario without rules can be fun or enjoyable or even meaningful to anyone participating within. At least I can’t think of any.

 

There are many ways I can avoid doing either of these things, I just need to remember that when I’m in trouble it is because one of these to extremes is occurring and I must devise some way of resolving it.

 

I’ve also had a cleared a number of blocks I hadn’t noticed. I should’ve taken my own advice earlier given that I’ve already written a post about ‘clearing the deck’.

I’ve been doodling away writing poetry, prose based ramblings these past few months with relatively intense frequency for something I do as and when the mood or idea takes me – like a hobby almost. However, I had neglected to sort them or do the 2nd drafts and editing that is much needed if any of it is to be worthwhile or fit for public consumption.

On attempting a full-scale clear-out and tidy up of this raw stuff I’ve been encouraged that some of the work is decent, or at least there is some seed there and have decided to set aside some time to the honing of this particular craft and attempting to ‘perform’ some of it by putting together a spoken word set.

 

I’m very excited.

 

 

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2 Responses to “Songwriting Challenge Week 9”

  1. […] K's Blog about creativity « Songwriting Challenge Week 4 Songwriting Challenge Week 9 […]

  2. Love “Flow.” A very simple, yet profound concept. I like your motivation to keep working at this challenge. Just remember that the challenge to songwriting always makes it worth it.

    Mark Blasini

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