As I promised yesterday, I'm going to answer a great question that a friend asked me at dinner the other night about my writing process. She wanted to know if I write my music solely from inspiration or on task.
(Again, in case you don't know what I mean, when I say on task I mean sitting down specifically to write, inspiration or no inspiration, using title ideas that make up one of my many lists, or a song that I've been commissioned to write.)
Her question made me think of a good story involving a song that I wrote back in 2005. My sister asked me to write this song for her wedding. She wanted me to write a song about the relationship between her and our dad and I was to play it at the reception for the father/daughter dance. She was to get married in December 2005 and she asked way in advance (which I very much appreciated) in January 2005, giving me almost a year to work my magic.
I had never been commissioned to write a song so I thought it would be a great opportunity to build my writing chops. Being for such a special moment for special people and being my first commissioned piece, I put a lot of pressure on myself and it showed.
I started working on the song on January 24th, 2005. Over the next 10 months the few lines and shaky chord progressions remained undeveloped and unfinished. I was too content on waiting on that call from inspiration to put me over the edge but the pressure and the time crunch locked my brain and left me with nothing to show. So instead of waiting on that inspiration, on October 30th I buckled down, and started more or less from scratch. A few lines from my almost year old start remained but everything else drastically changed to become what is now "Take Me Home". (You can check out the finished version at my Reverbnation page, track #9.)
I finished up the song with a couple of weeks to spare and I performed it at my sister's wedding reception as I promised. There wasn't a dry eye in the room and it was one of the most rewarding moments of my songwriting career.
The point behind this story is that to be a songwriter you have to draw a fine line between working from inspiration and focusing and creating things from your musical brilliance. I tend to rely on the idea of inspiration too much and it gets me nowhere. This story is proof that buckling down and writing on task sometimes has to be done, you can't always just wait for the ideas to fall in your lap. Ideally, inspiration and hard work need to work hand and hand to be at your most productive.
Like I mentioned in my previous post "Inspriration? What's Inspiration!?", sometimes it's necessary to make your own inspiration. I'm thankful that my friend brought up this topic because as much as I've written from ideas simply floating in my head, I really needed to be reminded that hard work is necessary and I need to sit down, concentrate and get writing.
Rock on and make sure to check out "Take Me Home"!