Actually, I borrowed this title from the Jackson Browne song that opened his first album while thinking of the Beatles. All connected with routine and inspiration in writing. People can make strange connections, but this one definitely works for me. Ok, let's start from the beginning.
So poetry is what is in your heart but you have to make a living writing content posts for some guy’s site connected to a big retailer and its all kitchen appliances, washing machines or jogging gear. I guess the term content mill includes daily writing chores like these. All you need is a routine how to get this done. The only problem is, to get the routine you have to have some writing behind you, and you can’t get any writing done because all this seems quite uninspiring. But lets put it this way, do you think that washing machines are really inspiring to the people that make them or sell them. After all, it's dealing with dirty laundry all day long.
Maybe they are inspired by the fact that they will get a nice sum of money if they sell a lot of those. The key word here is inspired. Something inspires them to do what they do. The point is, to get into a routine that will bring you an ease in writing about something that does not seem inspiring at first is to make a connection between your “dreaded subject” of the moment and the fact that you have to write about it. So you have to say to yourself, “Jamaica Say Yo Will” or shall I make that The Beatles connection? With all the rightful praises for the reissue of one of the greatest albums of all time The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, a reminder should be made that most of the music they recorded before and after that is simply sublime.
Like the absolutely brilliant “Here, There and Everywhere” from “Revolver”, the album that preceded “Sgt. Pepper”. That is where the inspiration of every writer is. In that title. And in the song itself, of course. And inspiration brings the routine, not routine as in drudgery, but routine as in ease of writing and the ability to note down words that mean something. Every minute possible.
This one is about Sticky fingers. Sticky fingers? Yes, literally. To music fans that would usually mean that famous Rolling Stones album, where they tried to rid themselves of any traces of psychedelia and get back to their beginnings and re-invent them. Which they did, since their Sticky Fingers album was probably the start of one of the greatest rock trilogy of albums that included Let It Bleed and Exile On Main Street.
But let us put that in the writing context. Again, I have something literal in mind (in both senses of the word - if you really want or need to write anything, you should have a set of sticky fingers. It doesn’t matter whether they will be stuck in some sort of a keyboard or a pen of some kind. Preferably it will both. And that is for a very obvious reason - you never know what can become a source of inspiration, when it will strike and in which direction it will take you. If you focus on the fact that it is not coming, it won’t. The focus should be on the fact that a good idea will come, even if at that point you think you’re dotting down gibberish, and keep the sticky fingers ready.
Example? At the moment I’m sitting in “Walter Benedict”, one of my favorite cafes in town, with cozy tables and open brick walls. It is unusually warm outside, even if it’s mid-May. The cafe staff obviously have a good taste in music, they’re playing Peter Broderick’s With The Notes In My Ears from his Home album. Sitting inside, I notice the the people that occupied the outside table - the guy with green fancy moustache and a goatee with an off-kilter blue hat on his hat paying attention to every woman that passes by, a couple in their so-called ripe years having something that seems a totally inconsequential conversation and a younger couple completely immersed into their mobile tools of some sort or the other. It is just a moment, a snippet that tells you that it is good enough to be there and just soak everything in.
Ok, it is a very common situation. But do you remember when was the last time you were in a similar one that you didn’t intentionally try to remember or record in some way? Did you think how you could develop in your mind, or even better, write down a situation, a conversation that could develop into a story? That’s why those Sticky Fingers are for. So Brown Sugar and Wild Horses will reap their rewards.
Waiting for the work to come in when you are a freelance writer is a tortuous thing, whether it is just days or years. Two obvious reasons why you get anxious - you want to do the think you really like - write, and then there is that small matter of getting paid for it. That is what you do and you have to pay all those expenses, get some food, and why not, enjoy yourself…
So, no matter how long that wait was, suddenly the work starts coming in and you get hit with a somewhat strange situation - it is getting a bit too much for your liking. Yes, you can now write as much as you wish, and more. And that ‘more’ can become quite a problem, you want to handle it all, but you get overwhelmed by that old movie stereotype where you’re in the 9 to 5 office and invisible hands are just piling tons and tons of papers to be finished yesterday. So what happened with all that joyfulness, ‘do it t your own pace and time’…
It can get very scary and stressful - you’re entering exactly the situation that you wanted to avoid - somebody or somebodies are setting you there own rhythm and pace, and you get the feeling you might have gone (back) to that office after all. But he’s the thing - you might as well listen to Bob Marley’s advice - “Lively Up Yourself”! If you can’t really speak Patois and Rasta ideology is not your thing, what Marley had in mind is more or less, don’t let the thing get you down! In such a situation, Marley himself probably went for a “remedial cigarette” (actually a few of them). That might not be your thing but some kind of relaxation is definitely in order.
But the key element here in a situation where you want to have your cake and eat it too, and that is to do as much writing as your heart desires, but avoiding it to become a burden is to translate Marley’s Lively Up Yourself into “organize yourself”. First of all, see how much writing you can take per day without constantly thinking of what’s on the schedule next. Basically, leave as much space between assignments as you need to recuperate both mentally and physically (who doesn’t think that writing has its physical hardships, hasn’t done that much writing). And, I know all those organizational and writing tools that flood your email inbox are a drag, but some of them are not just useful, but you really need them to stay on top. In essence, take on as much as you really can because that is the only way to stay productive but for you writing to acquire a true worth. To yourself and others.
Oh, and keep Marley’s Lively Up Yourself somewhere handy…
No matter how much you like your job, after some time and for whatever reason, working in an office environment will get you down and you long for some time off. That is why weekends become such a shining moment and something you keep on waiting for. Way back in the Sixties those great Australians The Easybeats came up with one of the best musical expressions of that longing, Friday On My Mind, showing not only how much you want the arrival of that freedom time, but boasting one of great guitar riffs of its time (these guys later on brought along AC/DC too). But then, what if you don’t work in an office, or you never did, quite a general case if you are a writer in some form or another (with exceptions, of course)? What does the weekend mean to you, and is there, or should there be something as free time?
Ok, maybe you haven’t opened the door of an office unless yow wanted a loan from the bank, but then you still have that “weekend feeling” in you, at least from the days when your parents had to keep on waking you up to go to school every (week)day. If nothing else, the weekend is a symbol of everything that does not resemble anything that has a sense of obligation, and most of all, a time when you can think of anything you wish or comes up to your mind.
But then, if you are a writer, isn’t that your work? Thinking about anything you wish or comes up to your mind. It does though involve noting it down and arranging in in some kind of a semblance (even James Joyce did that with Finnegans Wake, don’t kid yourself). So, as a writer you got something of a problem, or a dilemma as far as weekends (or free time in general) are concerned - do you just keep on going about your “job” and ignore the weekend, particularly as symbol of free time in general or you-you draw a chalk line on a blackboard (anybody use these anymore?) and say, this is my free time, I simply won’t think about anything?
I’d say that as a writer you don't have much choice - you can’t do either of those. On one hand, you cannot neglect those good ideas (and bad ones) can come at any time and anywhere, free time, weekend or not. On the other, a weekend is some kind of a freedom symbol and it has to exist, even just as a symbol. That is why you need to have that Easybeats song somewhere in some form (many of those these days) ready and have Friday on your mind.
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