Yesterday in The Red Hand Files, Nick Cave offered this advice for an exasperated songwriter who couldn’t seem to write a song, right after ‘giving’ him one of his own:
My advice to you is to change your basic relationship to songwriting. You are not the ‘Great Creator’ of your songs, you are simply their servant, and the songs will come to you when you have adequately prepared yourself to receive them. They are not inside you, unable to get out; rather, they are outside of you, unable to get in. Songs, in my experience, are attracted to an open, playful and motivated mind. Throw my song away — it isn’t that good anyway — sit down, prepare yourself and write your own damn song. You are a songwriter. You have the entire world to save and very little time to do it. The song will find its way to you. If you don’t write it, someone else will. Is that what you want? If not, get to it.
I think this is an interesting perspective to consider. We often talked about how we can’t get ideas ‘out’ of us, but what happens if the ideas are actually somewhere outside, waiting to get in? It reminded me of a talk I listened to from an art director back when I was in university. He was given a brief to work on a project which requires him to rebrand the image of the entire London for a tourism campaign, which was, admittedly, a tall order. He mentioned that he sat in the office with his team for days trying to get the best ideas out, but none of them was unable to come up with anything good. Until he decided to take a walk, he realised how London is a quirky city — and that’s how the rebranding came about. The campaign on London was rebranded around the idea of the quirkiness of the 2000-year-old city. The team literally needed to go out for a walk to let the ideas be invited in.
I think this is also why on a number of sluggish days, I would pack my laptop and go to work from the cafè. I would love to go for a walk, but my area isn’t exactly pedestrian friendly and the heat in this tropical weather isn’t too kind either. For now, I’d be content with working from the cafè with a lot of natural light, sipping a good cup of joe.