I have spent a lot of time writing songs. A LOT of time. It started when I was 13, matching up simple poems to the first 3 chords I had learned on the guitar. Fourteen years and a huge stack of notebooks filled with songs later, I still notice something peculiar about it: you never know how the song is going to turn out.
I’ve also realized that you also never know where those songs may lead you in your career path. It does take hard work overall, but those moments when you’re truly in flow with creativity just kind of.. happen. At least, that has been my personal experience with it.
I read a book recently by one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Gilbert, called ‘Big Magic’. It’s an insightful, instructional book on how to channel creativity and let it be expressed fully. She talks about how she believes that ideas are floating around, waiting to be caught by humans so that they can be transformed into a tangible form. ‘Big Magic’ really resonated with me because I feel this has happened to me; whenever I have written a song that I ended up liking enough to release as part of my work as an artist, it was never difficult, and the songs were born from a flash of inspiration that came out of no where. These songs felt like they actually went through me, rather than coming from me. The most important thing for me to do when this happened was to stay present and catch them before they disappeared back into thin air.
There were many times in the past when I tried to write a song that I thought would appeal to the audience before I had even begun it. Other times I would try and control my creativity in order to impress my collaborators, thinking that they had a certain idea in mind of what they wanted the song to be. It also didn’t help that I was a major perfectionist. It stressed me out and I would over-think it rather than feel it, placing a huge block between me and creativity. If I had just let go, channeled the feeling of the song that I was working on, and let the song be what it’s meant to be, I would have saved a lot of time.
Yes, there is a science to songwriting, and there is the business side to the music industry. But at the end of the day, I want to be making songs that I personally like and that feel authentic to me as an artist first and foremost. I may make money from it and I might make fractions of pennies, and I’ll figure out a way to make ends meet if necessary. People may like or dislike it and either way, that’s fine. Music is subjective, and that’s one of the things that makes it so beautiful. If I end up making a substantial amount of money AND most other people enjoy it, then that is just an enormous bonus to the joy and fulfillment that making music brings me. That has been the most important thing I’ve learned so far for the sake of my art, and my peace of mind.
To hear more from Laura, you can purchase a CD here.