I started working on this blog entry almost four year ago, when I came up with the song, “The Road That Leads To Jesus”. During that time, I was facing some giant struggles, one of them knowing that Joelle was starting her fight against cancer and it was just a matter of time until she would lose that battle. But, in that time, I discovered that some of my best works, or at least what I consider to be my best works, come forth from my deepest feelings. Rather than come up with a whole new entry, I decided to take what I started writing then and build on it. The journey of songwriting was a hard one to restart, mainly due to trying to get my motivation going, but one of the things that did help me to move forward in my journey was knowing that Joelle did get to hear the chorus of my song idea and I wanted to complete it in her honor. My discoveries in this journey were no different today as they were back then. So, here goes:
I had a rude awakening. I realized that when it comes to songwriting: I am not dry at all. Worst part of it was that for a long time, I had myself convinced that the songwriting well was dry and that I felt that I was being punished, when the truth is that I can be judgmental with a slight touch of laziness. I am loaded with a number of song ideas and yet I find that I don’t follow through with them. Even worse than not following through is that I often don’t start by putting the idea down in the first place. I throw the idea out before I even have a chance to make something out of it.
So how did I get to this conclusion? I just happened to finally notice that one night while I had my guitar plugged in, I came up with a patch that made me rather excited to play. My ears were practically dancing to the sound, and I was playing some riffs to the sound. I could have played all night long. It’s not the first time that I have been playing all night, or at least lost track of time. The problem lies in that I didn’t bother to capture them. I have all sorts of ways to capture my guitar sound. I can open up my DAW, or I can even capture the idea on my phone and listen to it. It doesn’t take a whole lot to hit the record button. However, I just seem to be dismissing these ideas, probably thinking that I am going to come back to them later. The reality is that I have forgotten more song ideas than songs that I have written.
Even worse is thinking that an idea is not good enough. This is crazy. All ideas should be considered good and should be recorded.
So, what am I going to do with this newly discovered information? How can I make sure that I am not brooding over the one that got away?
To start, I’ve learned that the secret to writing is quantity. The more you write, the more you will write. I’m at the point of putting every idea down. Whether it’s on my phone or on my computer, I am making sure that I put down something. Whether it turns into a song or not, it goes down. Even the apps on my phone enable me to get something down quickly.
I’m also making sure that I have access to everything I write. I’ve learned that I can have a brilliant addition to that song, whether it is music or lyrics, and nothing is worse than not having it available. I also like to review them once in a while for some inspiration.
The last thing I have learned is not to criticize my ideas. I’ve learned that nothing shuts me down faster than shooting down my ideas before they get a chance to flourish. In fact, I’ve learned a lesson from Steve Vai: write the crappiest song you can because if you know it is crappy, you can do anything you want. Pat Pattison once said, “Write crap because crap is fertilizer. Good ideas grow from crap.”
Through these simple steps, I have discovered that I have been writing more. I have discovered that the well is not dry. I’ve only been putting a cap on it at times. All I have to do is keep writing.