As I approach the 2-year anniversary of my weekly song project, it’s fascinating to look back on how my writing process has developed, and to see what lessons I’ve learned. So here are a few tips to share with any readers who are either contemplating a creative venture (or who would enjoy a vicarious peek at something they’d rather not experience first-hand).
Writing is frequently 1% inspiration and 99% putting-your-rear-in-a-chair. In other words, the best way to learn to write is to write. My 8th-grade English class was fortunate enough to meet with Ray Bradbury once, and he shared his practice of forcing himself to write 10 pages every single day — sometimes those pages consisted of “I have nothing to say” over and over again, but with enough repetition, he would eventually come up with something usable.
Give yourself permission to write crap. It’s always easier to edit than to start from scratch, but it’s almost impossible to come up with anything if you are afraid it won’t be fabulous.
Be open to inspiration from unexpected places. Sure, some weeks have a fabulous, everyone’s-talking-about-it story, which is how I came up with “Oh Won’t You Put Me In Your Binder Full Of Women.” The fact that you probably get that reference, nearly 2 years later, shows you how memorable that story was. But there are definitely weeks I find myself thinking, “Oh, crap, what am I going to do this week?” Those weeks, when I’m not looking for it, an idea will pop into my head. For example, after Dick Cheney started popping up on news shows, plugging his “let’s-bomb-everyone” website, I heard my husband & son in yet another volley of sophomoric, off-color jokes, and that inspired “I’m Sick Of Dick”).
Be open to suggestions, especially when you have a deadline. I am fortunate to have some wonderful subscribers & supporters, who occasionally send me ideas. I can’t always use every one, but my friend Lucien, who is the web designer for The Political Carnival, sent me the inspiration for this week’s song: