Jeff Tweedy, of the band Wilco, has this advice for people who want to write songs. I think it can apply to any creative endeavor and would even work to help motivate our students.
Be Okay With Bad
“It’s going to be a tough assignment if you only want to make good songs. I want to stress again that it’s necessary to learn how to be okay with being bad at what you do. . . or you’ll never get too good. And you have to keep being okay with going through bad to get to good. So you might as well try to find the joy in creating even a bad song, or a bad poem, or a bad poem, or whatever art you need to make.”
Writer’s Block Isn’t Really a Block
“Let’s stop calling [writer’s block] a block. The only impediment between a creator and their goal is actually a creation in itself. So we can name it whatever we like. I prefer to think of these periods as hurdles or speed bumps or challenges. Calling it a block seems to give it way more weight than it deserves.”
A Song Will Love You Back
“A song will always love you back, but sometimes it just needs a little space.”
I love this quote. I believe that we often have to give ourselves a bit of distance from our work to let our unconscious mind keep working away at it. When we come back to it later, answers will present themselves that we previously weren’t able to see. I wrote about this a few years back with my post Think, Leave, Cook, Write.
Giving Up Become a Habit
“Giving up becomes a habit. And the delayed gratification that comes from a song finished with some hardship is going to teach you more about writing songs than this entire book will ever be able to impart. Through your own grit and effort you will learn where you’re likely to trap yourself in dead-ends and you’ll be one more song wiser to the idea that songs all happen the same way. Not to mention how great it feels to be able to say, ‘I did it. I didn’t given up.'”
Sum It Up
To sum up his advice; Find joy in creating the art you need to make, because it will love you back. You can’t have writer’s block but you can experience a hurdle or a set-back. Give your work some space and come back to it. Don’t give up because that can become a habit. Write or create and it will feel great!
Write One Song – My review of Tweedy’s great book
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