Recently, I’ve had a terrible time writing music. I’ve constantly felt distracted, and it’s become really clear recently that it takes total concentration to be creative. It really takes sitting down someplace totally secluded and just letting out a lot of feeling. I guess after having taken a break from putting my whole self into whatever music I wrote, I forgot that it really means being alone. Nobody around—nothing around. A guitar, or a piano, or whatever I’m writing, and myself. Maybe a notebook and a pen…a tape recorder or something to remember those perfect moments of spontaneity, but that’s it. No phones—no iPods, laptops, nobody around you to make you feel self-conscious of what you’re doing. Just total immersion in whatever you’re trying to do.
If you’re sitting there worried about what your neighbor next door is thinking of the guitar being too loud, or a family member thinking what you’re doing is too weird, or what you’re going to make for dinner, or what you’re doing next week, you can’t possibly extract the emotion from yourself and be happy with what you write. If you’re worrying about all of those things while you try to write and express yourself, your art, your music, your poetry—whatever you’re doing is going to be filtered by all the other things going on.
To that extent in today’s world, it’s nearly impossible to sit down and truly express yourself. Our era of instant communication leaves us and our smartphones/iDevices to be constantly connected to the rest of the world. To have Facebook, Twitter, texting and everything in the palm of our hand whenever we want it leaves us tethered to it even when we don’t want it all the time. Sure, a lot of the time, you can turn off your phone, but so many people get overly offended that you don’t answer their calls that it’s crazy. We’re all addicted to instant communication. We constantly feel obligated to be there all the time—every second of every day.
It’s healthy to turn your phone off. Leave it upstairs and go downstairs with your three best friends and make music for a few hours. Sit down and read a new piece of music. Put your headphones on and listen to somebody new. Stumbleupon something amazing that inspires you to do something new. Spend a little time alone—in a room, not listening for the phone, or the dogs, or your spouse, and just express your emotion. If that’s beating drum head with a stick until you come up with the new beat to back your guitar player’s riff or if it’s experimenting with chord progressions, lyrics, melodies, new voicings…shut the door, put the world on hold, and let loose your emotion—let every bit of pure, raw feeling out in your art.