I work out a lot. But even I sometimes lose sight of one of the most basic principles of the gym, of life, and most definitely of songwriting: “No pain, no gain”.
The most specific and Schwarzeneggerian meaning of this phrase is: “If your muscles don’t hurt from your workout, they will not grow”. But in life terms, I take it to mean: “You gotta put in the time and the work on a very regular basis…or you don’t get the results.”
Cut to songwriting. Recently I had a lot of business stuff on my plate, and there were days when I had barely any time to visit my old friend the studio, much less to focus on writing new songs. Now that’s all part of the “music business” – see my earlier blog. But on the other hand, staying away from writing starts to build a kind of perverse momentum. You think, “Well, I only have an hour now, I won’t be able to get anything done…” and then “I’m kind of burnt out on the paperwork and emails and phone calls and I’m just not feeling it so I’ll wait another day” etc. etc. etc. The excuses start piling up, and then it’s just a matter of fear, plain and simple: “Am I ever gonna be able to write another song??”
Finally, I couldn’t put it off any longer, and my soul was craving to create. So I sat down at my keyboard and…nada. Musical muscle atrophy had set in. It took me a couple of days of staring blank-eyed at the computer screen and trying every songwriting self-help trick I know before, finally, the rust started to disappear and the ideas started to come trickling out. Whew!
So exercise your musical muscles really regularly. Feel the burn. When you get out of musical shape it is no fun at all to try to regain your form.