This posting by Dan. I was asked by our friend Beth DeSombre to participate in a “blog hop” about writing. What follows below is a bit about my writing process. After that you’ll find information on some other writers who will hopefully carry on by writing a blog article about their own writing processes. Through this process we all learn about other writers and their approaches and build community.
So let’s get started with some information about my writing.
1) What am I working on/writing?
I write songs. Specifically, I write songs that tell stories. I write about people and places from my dreams and real life, from prompts I receive (more on that later) and lessons learned in life.
At any given time I have a stack of lyrics awaiting attention and notebooks full of material I haven’t gotten to. Right now, I’m both working on some new pieces and reviewing old songs that haven’t been played out, re-thinking the music and editing the lyrics. I’m also reviewing songs for our next CD (having just released a new one last month) and thinking about songs that would fit with those we are considering.
Each month we host a songwriter’s showcase in which the audience chooses a theme for the next month’s writers. Since we host, Faith and I write a new song each month. Some prompts result in songs we really like, others, less so.
2) How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?
For me, lyrics are the starting point of my writing, as I am generally telling a story or centering around a specific message. I’m writing songs that give voice to my thoughts and emotions and present them with our own voices and instruments. I haven’t any interest in trying to have a song be “popular” in the radio sense. I write songs that connect with people. Our live sets take the listener on a musical journey through happy and sad, sorrow and joy.
3) Why do I write what I do?
I started writing after my father passed away. I was trying to figure out where I was going in life, and was having trouble expressing my thoughts in a useful way. I kept trying to write, with limited success. A chance encounter some years before with The Kennedys and a mention of a songwriting workshop in their newsletter proved a turning point. I signed up and from Maura and Pete learned how to tap into dreams and meditation for songwriting inspiration. I also learned a bit about songwriting in general and within the first few weeks had a song that both expressed my feelings and was entirely singable and decent. More followed and it became impossible to stop the flood.
I write because I have to. Because it keeps me going. Because it allows me to take emotions that were bottled up inside and give them space and separate them from me. In short, I write because I must. That said, I also write because I love it. I’m also a photographer, and a software designer. Like songwriting, these are each highly creative endeavors. Music is special in my life and always has been. When on stage singing, there is a moment in time when nothing else exists. When my full consciousness is focused on telling a story and communicating with an audience. There is magic in those moments.
4) How does my writing process work?
If you’ve ever met me, you may have noticed a notebook in my hand, or in a bag I’m carrying. It’s rare for my notebook to be more than an arm’s reach from me. If I’m listening to a concert, I might pull out my notebook to jot something down. Often an image will come to mind while I relax and listen. Capturing even a word or two of a thought could lead to something useful later.
Before bed, I write affirmations, plus thoughts of the day. In the morning I write down what I can remember of my dreams, or any lyrics or melodies that might have been circulating in my subconscious. I then review what’s there, let my mind wander for a little while and see if something starts to take shape. More often than not, I will write something. It might be a full set of lyrics, a line or two, or just an idea for a song.
On rare occasions a song will be in my mind during these morning sessions fully, or nearly fully formed. Old Cabin was one of these, where an image and emotion on the part of an old music hall in my dreams led to full lyrics in under 10 minutes. The words flowed as fast as I could write them out.
Now that you’ve read some about how and why I write, here are some friends whose writing is worth checking out. They’ve each agreed to write an article similar to this one you’ve been reading, and tag others to continue this chain-like “blog hop.”
Solveig is the lead vocalist, lyricist, and business side of the pop/folk duo Solveig & Stevie, whose other member is studio musician and producer, Stevie Adamek. Before beginning her songwriting and performing collaboration with Stevie in 2010, Solveig was the lead vocalist for the Seattle folk-pop band Shades of Red, which released two CDs.
Elizabeth Pope is a multi-faceted singer/songwriter from the foothill community of Auburn, California. Elizabeth’s folk/soul acoustic blend has created a consistent presence on social media throughout the USA, UK, Australia, and Canada and throughout the world. Her music is often described as being “meaningful” and “radio-friendly”, and has spread like wildfire from fan to fan as they recommend her to others.
This blog hop was linked to by Beth DeSombre. If you’ve not arrived from her blog, I recommend going and checking out her thoughts on writing too. Beth is a professor at Wellesley College in addition to a fabulous singer/songwriter. She discusses her writing in both roles on her blog. Definitely check out her music while you’re there.