Music and lyrics are the gasoline fluid to my writing engine. I never know which song is going to help me write that first sentence that I feel deep in my blood. That’s why I decided to devote one blog a month to songs and lyrics that can get me writing and lead me to breakthroughs in my work.
When I am at a certain point in all of my writing and promotional work as well, the music must be turned on. At others, once I’m firmly in the substance and energy of a piece, and usually the closer I get to the final deadline, it’s equally important to turn all sound off. And luscious silence creates thread-the-needle concentration music of its own.
This throwback by Kansas members Kerry Livgreen and Steve Walsh (Walsh was suffering from Writer’s Block during the production of the album LeftOverture) is one I always go to when I am stuck at a metaphorical wall, struggling to connect the dots on a vision with concrete and specific business plans and/or I just want to to break through in the richest soul of my work, life, or a day of feeling lost-ness.
The song, the Wall, is all about embracing the whole of oneself through the trials of spiritual transformation, which might look different for each one of us. The song is infused with electric-keyboard heavy, violin-sweetening, drum riffs that heighten the feeling. But what I especially love, for my purposes here, is that the lyrics remind us to rehash the big picture why (and the how) of what we really want beneath the surface–when faced with feeling stuck. We all have trouble walls in our work and our psyche, the ones that block our larger vision, cloud certain days with chaos and infuse us with a sense of paralysis. I regularly break up my work with “scaling” exercises that often bring my work home, especially with a good playlist in the background. I’ve framed just a few of them below around some of my favorite lyrics in this song.
1. “I’m woven in a fantasy.” Where is your mind wandering and distracted or lost? Livgreen was struggling with the surface (soul-less) pleasures and pressures of success. But whether you are experiencing success or failure or somewhere in between, go beyond where “gold and diamonds cast a spell.” I’m talking to you–all hot-air overnight-success fantasies or Facebook time-oil-spills! Instead, beyond the momentary thrills and chills of imaginary thinking, approval numbers and/ or miscellaneous comments which will distract you, stay in the zone through the itch. Don’t get me wrong. I have helped my clients use social media to plant, water and grow their message and reach thousands of new readers over time. Social media can be a powerful place to connect with and expand your audience personally and authentically. But, there is a time and a place. I typically recommend dedicated slots of time to social media rather than long attention-dragging trawls. Digital quick-hits can scatter your attention and dilute your writing voice without a strategic time-management approach. (More on that in a forthcoming blog post, Managing the Creative Force and Social Media).
To get to your big picture: What is the soul-seed of your fantasy that you can actually make more real? Then once you have cleared the psychic space to climb up that steep wall to the interior world of your writing, ask one hard question where you made an assumption–maybe where you were afraid to research or hear the real answer. This can be excruciating but consider yourself a rock climber gaining your foothold. It will feel good when you reach a sense of stability through your own sweat. I promise it will save you time and show you what’s what. It will also mean you will start on solid ground.
2. Struggle with the weight of indecision. We spend most of our time avoiding tension but acceptance of strain is the perfect way to deepen all of your creative work. Sit still all the way through the “weight of indecision in the air.” What are you having trouble deciding on? Indecision can be taken to an extreme and certainly is distracting if you are in a car and need to make the right turn. However, in front of your keyboard, indecision can mean you are invested enough to give questions appropriate weight. Where will that turn take you? What are the consequences of your decisions? Why are you pulled in two (or more) different directions? We know the right direction when we take the right turn. It’s an earned and deliberate energy that has looked at all of the options with care and has weighed the pros and cons. When you give your project its natural complexity, heavy doubts, mixed motives, shadow sides and valid problems, it means you are laying the groundwork for a more intimately human and often more resonant final product.
3. See it through. “Those are few who’ve seen it through to glimpse the other side.” I wish I could tell you that growing and realizing your creative dreams came without any losses or sacrifices or spells of confusion. No can do. In my experience, you know the projects that you MUST return to again and again. Your gut will tell you and you should listen to it. There are so many ways to approach the most elusive of creative dreams, but returning, consistency and perseverance matter the most. Then, only once you struggle, make a plan and stick to it. Get out a big sheet of paper and plan for your larger goals and outline concrete action steps. Are you where you need to be to make your dream happen in a year, two, three? What are three things you can do per week that will work to sustain your long-term plan? Name three people you can contact to make it happen next month? My experience is that once you make one hard decision, other choices will become easier. As Lisa Cron, author of “Story Genius” writes: “Specifics beget specifics.” Your priorities will begin to reveal themselves.
So, to recap: What walls are in your way of achieving your writing or business goals?
How can you map out a step by step plan to breakthrough? What support do you need to get there?
I know the answers are all right there, inside you.