writing a song -- 7/15/22

Today's selection -- from How to Write One Song by Jeff Tweedy. One key to being creative is freeing yourself from inhibitions:
"The important element here is that you find some way to sidestep the part of your brain that wants perfec­tion or needs to be rewarded right away with a 'creation' that it deems 'good' -- something that supports an ideal vision of yourself as someone who's serious and smart and accomplished. Basically, you have to learn how to have a party and not invite any part of your psyche that feels a need to judge what you make as a reflection of you. Or more accurately, the part of you that cannot tolerate any outward expression that might be flawed.

"Sadly, this part of who we are wields a lot of control over how much freedom we give ourselves to create. Many, many people I've known in my life have never truly gotten past this hang-up. Maybe I've met a few who have white-knuckled it enough to create an impres­sive body of work without letting go of judgment and control, but I must admit I always feel like I can hear a certain mirthless labor in their recordings. What I feel like I can sense is that they never got over having to sound bad to get good, and that they never really learned to embrace the joyousness of sounding 'bad.'

"Actually, I think it's a skill that one would more likely relearn than learn. Kids are, in my experience, usually able to commit to creating in a way almost com­pletely devoid of judgment. I love watching kids sprawled out on a carpet drawing or coloring. To me, it's the ideal creative state, and it's what I strive for more than any other aspect of what I do. It takes some work, and it takes tricks like the ones we've been discussing, but I've found it for myself, and it's worth it.

"What I want you to find is what I've found through these practices: the thrill of 'disappearing,' as I'll call it, which I know I've talked about before but deserves an­other reminder here. I know I've achieved what I'm looking for in a creative experience when my sense of time and space has been altered -- when I look up and all of a sudden it's three hours later and I'm a little surprised by where I am. It's those moments that give me the great­est satisfaction, and I find them to be extremely benefi­cial to my overall well-being. So much so that I decided to write this book because I truly believe that, at the very least, if you can unburden yourself of your more judg­mental and discerning self with some regularity, you'll have a better life.

"So what we're still talking about here are the differ­ent ways to trick yourself into letting your guard down. I'll admit I don't have all the answers. But I do think just naming the effort, and explaining it to yourself in these terms, can help."

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Jeff Tweedy


How to Write One Song


Penguin Random House


Copyright 2020 by Jeffrey Scot Tweedy


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