Monday, May 14, 2012

HAMMERING DOWN DOORS
by Janet Lawler
May 14, 2012

Oprah & Gaga on creativity
What gets your creative juices flowing?  Your second wind?

I found it fascinating when Lady Gaga discussed her "creative process" with Oprah on OWN recently.  Lady Gaga said she has to go deep -- block out the world -- to find inspiration, to open the doors of her mind, open them, pound on them, hammer them down -- so something fresh (a message, lyrics, inspiration) can come through.

Gaga cancels out the noise around her (and let's face it, right now Lady Gaga creates a lot of noise and buzz).  By being isolated and still -- she taps into whatever has given her two hugely successful albums and many hit songs that resonate with her fans, her little monsters.

Is it a muse?  Divine intervention?  A gift?  What causes creativity in us?  Where does the energy and process come from?

I admire singer-songwriters -- especially Adele, Stevie Nicks, Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morissette, Paul McCartney, Sheryl Crow, Rob Thomas, Melissa Etheridge,  Annie Lennox, Pink, Elton John, Billy Joel, Dido, James Taylor, Norah Jones, Tracy Chapman, Tori Amos, and on and on.  Their music, their words, speak to me... and their unique way of presenting it... making it fresh.

How do artists tell a full story through song in only three minutes or more?  Some do it better than others.  Some singer-songwriters reach us emotionally and that song becomes the soundtrack to whatever we're experiencing at that time -- our graduation, a breakup, a new relationship, a new job, moving to a new city, or getting married.

Words.  Lyrics.  Story.  Emotions.

Here are how some of the above artists say they create:

James Taylor
James Taylor:
 "That’s the way it comes out. It’s a clich√©, but that’s because it’s true to say I don’t have any real conscious control over what comes out. I just don’t direct it. I wish I could say, “Oh, that would be great to write a song about.” But what I am doing is assembling and minimally directing what is sort of unconsciously coming out. It’s not something I can direct or control. I just end up being the first person to hear these songs. That’s what it feels like, that I don’t feel as though I write them."

Sarah McLachlan
Sarah McLachlan
"It was mainly secluding myself, being away from society and being away from everything. I locked myself up in a cabin in the mountains and stayed there for seven months. It was just an amazing time for me to really focus on a lot of stuff that had sort of been lurking behind the scenes in my brain, but never had the time to come out. Or it kept being put aside, because there were so many distractions. Also I think, I got incredibly in tune with the earth, with nature, like I hadn't before. I couldn't write a thing for three months. My brain was eating itself. It was terribly cold out and I couldn't do anything creative. I was just frozen.

Everything was churning around inside but nothing would come out. Then spring happened and everything totally opened up. I was blossoming as well. Most of the songs—I had written four previous to going to the cabin—were written then, about seven of them, between April and May. The place that I got to in myself of feeling calm and peaceful and also for the first time in my life, feeling I'm happy now. Not 'I would be happy if . . . ' There was always that going on with me. I finally got to a place where I was totally happy and peaceful and living in the present tense instead of in the future, you know and projecting things."

Stevie Nicks
Stevie Nicks:
"I usually see something or hear something. Something inspires me and that causes me to have a little bit of a vision and I try to write it down as quick as I can."

Alanis Morissette
Alanis Morissette (from her website www.alanis.com):
"Regardless of which part of the brain (and heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears n fears :) leads the way, it is usually an intensely focused Short amount of time.
usually a song is written within 20 minutes.
i find that if i need to drag out the process, the process is not fluid enough to be the kind of song i enjoy listening to
i love the combo: effort-full and engaged, but Fast!
i don’t believe in writer’s block.
i simply stop if it’s not coming….seeing it as a sign that i need to distract myself or focus on something else.
usually i need to go get a sandwich or relax with friends and take a break.
100 percent of the time, when i listen to that impulse to take a break, i come back fully inspired.
i also have to make sure i care deeply about the content, or there will not be enough fuel to have the song come through quickly.
in the end, the writing process requires me to be open minded, open hearted, fully engaged and awake, and to take on the role of being the humble scribe…taking dictation, and getting out of the way.
what that means is “no censoring, no editing, until later, if at all.”

Alanis releases a new single "Guardian" on May 15th on iTunes.  Be sure to listen to her latest writing efforts.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCBIG28On0o

Tap into whatever process works best for you to get you to the pen or laptop to create the NEXT big thing.  Go with the flow of your instincts, ideas and hammer open the door like Lady Gaga. 

 Until next time.

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