I’m reading a book I thought I’d never read all the way through, but it turns out I’m cutting through it like butter. It’s called “Songwriters on Songwriting” and it’s a collection of Q&A interviews with 62 household names whose creativity resulted in the American soundtrack for the last 50 years. I mention it here, because of the commonalities between writing a hit song and writing news or anything else for that matter.
Some of the interviews are intrinsically interesting to me. I’d read absolutely anything about Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Neil Young or any of these guys in my record collection. But I didn’t know much about some other types of pop songwriters. Even people like Burt Bacharach (“Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” … “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head”) are hardly top of mind for me.
What’s interesting to me is that about half of them consider themselves conduits for some higher power, and the other half consider their success more worldly – the simple result of a lot of hard work and practice. Personally, I think both inspiration and perspiration are at play.
Bacharach is among those who go to work every day. He says the mysterious muse is more likely to make an appearance if you invite her in by working at your craft. …
“I equate it with being a tennis player on the circuit,” he told The Daily Beast in 2013. “You don’t take three weeks off and expect to get by the first round at Wimbledon, you know?”
I agree. I know I’m always a better writer when I am writing. Even a lapse of a week causes a stutter, a hiccup, that seems to interrupt the flow of information from my brain to my typing fingertips.
Sometimes our best writers are promoted to editors and suddenly they are removed form the “everyday-ness” of writing. That’s a mistake. Writing was the juice that brought many of us here. We should work at it every day. These blog posts are one way I keep writing. Editorials, briefs for the newspaper, an occasional breaking news assignment, blogs for your website – it all counts.
Don’t stop writing. Invite the muse.