Writing and Music Part 2

When I wrote my first post about writing and music (which you can find here) I thought I had said all that I had to say on the subject.

Yeah, right. Simply thinking that I was done should have let me know there was more coming, sometime.

Two posts on a topic don’t constitute the beginning of a series…does it?


Here’s what else I wanted to say about writing and music:

I try (yes, I know that’s something of a bad word..) to set aside a little bit of time at the tail end of my writing morning to practice with my guitar. I know three chords and I’m trying to convince my fingers and my head that I can, in fact, change from one chord to another reliably and (get this, folks) without looking.

Three chords: E, A, and D. Play one, go to another, then another, then back, rinse, repeat.

Three chords over and over and over. It doesn’t get any more nuts and bolts than that.

But here’s the thing:  As I’m working the nuts and bolts, I can fiddle a little bit with things. Play a bar of E (That would be E 4 times) then change to another chord (stumble, check fingers, sometimes get it right) and play another bar.

Fiddle a little bit more, say with the strumming pattern (which will still knock me off kilter as thoroughly as a baseball bat to the head) and I’ve got, I don’t know…something. Something that I didn’t have before, though I’d be stretching the limits of believability to even put it in the same zip code as music.

But, every now and again, I hear something. The beginnings of something cool and vast and if I have to laugh at myself over a bungled chord and keep going, that’s ok because I’m getting there.

That’s your first draft.

Work the nuts and bolts, to be sure, but while you’re doing that, fiddle with things a bit.  There’s a reason why they call what you do with a musical instrument “Playing”.

Play with your writing. Find the beginnings of that cool and vast thing you’re creating and don’t sweat it if you stumble or stutter. If you have to laugh at yourself and keep going, that’s ok because you’re getting there.

That’s what the first draft is for: To give you a place to play and experiment and to try something new and to build up the calluses on your mental fingers.

Writing and Music (all art, really) are about creating. And creation is messy. It’s hard, sometimes painful (Those calluses on your fingertips don’t appear there magically, folks), and takes time and dedication.

It also gives you more space to play in than you could ever use up and those moments when you glimpse, or feel, or hear that one cool and vast thing are some of the best in the world.

Go play…


Time: 9:12-ish

Music: Blind Guardian – The Ninth Wave