Just popping in here today to talk some songwriting (as one does) 🙂
Last week, while I was home with a cold, I had a little more time than usual to think about things. And as I was sipping my hot ginger tea and staring out over the wasteland otherwise known as our living room, an insight came to me.
As a mom to an almost three year old, “creative time” is almost non-existent. Where I used to have a hefty stretch of time after work and before bed that I could rely on daily to get some writing done, I now have basically nothing. Same with mornings. I used to be able to wake up early and spend time on working out a chord progression, or a melody or lyric idea. Now, my son wakes me up at the crack of dawn and it’s Go Time!
When I read about these people that put their alarm EXTRA early, before the rest of the family wakes up, to get some work done for themselves, I both admire and hate them. (I tried it once. Made the alarm go off at 5:00. I managed to get out of bed, pee, boil water for coffee and then my son woke up anyway so now I was not only tired, but also frustrated because I didn’t get anything done. Brilliant idea.)
But to get back to my story… While closing my eyes so as not to see the perpetual mess all around me, it occurred to me that I actually DO have a reliable snippet of time available to me every day, and that is my lunch break at work.
So this week, I have pretended to be a Navy Seal on a secret songwriting mission. 12:00 on the dot, I disappear into the ONE deserted room in our school that I could find, install myself in a big desk chair, take out my phone, and I get to work.
Oh, trusty iPhone, what would I do without you? To the innocent bystander, it of course looks as if I’m just lazily scrolling instagram while listening to the latest Taylor Swift album. But no, this phone is my songwriting tool no. 1 when I’m on the go.
Like today, I plugged in my earbuds and went into “the cloud” to retrieve a melody + chord idea I recorded the other day at home. While listening to it, I opened another app in which I’m always writing down possible song lyrics that randomly pop into my head (this could be anything from just a word I find intriguing, to an almost fully form poem). And as luck (or serendipity) would have it, a couple of those lyric ideas fit the melody perfectly, so I took 15 minutes to work those out and tadaa! A song is born.
OK, obviously I still need to fine-tune the structure, lyrics, find an arrangement, produce and record it. But in essence, the song is already there.
And (here is my point, that I’ve been trying to make in a very roundabout way), I made it in TINY chunks of time, that on their own seemed like they wouldn’t amount to anything ever – so why even bother?
You SHOULD bother, because your creativity matters. A lot. Life is just not the same without it. Maybe your creative thing is not writing songs. It could be baking sourdough breads, or salsa dancing, or making funny TikTok videos. Maybe you express your creativity at your job, in the way you write reports or put together presentations. Or maybe in the way you talk to clients on the phone. Maybe a combination of all of the above (in which case, you seem like a really fun person that I want to meet!)
But whatever your creative Thing is, if enough time passes with you not engaging in it, you will become frustrated, bored and restless (and I’m talking from experience here.)
So, please, if you want to put your creativity on hold because of whatever reason (not feeling ready, not having enough time, not feeling sure of what you want to say), just start anyway. Jot down random ideas in your notes app (or in a real notebook), make a quick voice memo if a melody pops into your head. Dare to follow your creative urges where they want to go.
You can always put the pieces together and polish them later. For now, just start somewhere, dream up something, and take ONE small action.
As Astrid Lindgren wrote, “everything great that ever happened in this world happened first in somebody’s imagination.”
So go on, dream that little dream, and then snatch those 2 minutes (instagram and even Taylor Swift can wait) to put the dream down on paper/ in your phone/ wherever else you won’t forget or lose it.
It will be there, patiently waiting for you to steal some more time, to turn it into something great.
(And then, please come back to tell me about it, I love to hear about real people with real lives, doing real creative things. There is nothing more inspiring.)
PS: “Dream a Little Dream of Me” is a 1931 song with music by Fabian Andre and Wilbur Schwandt and lyrics by Gus Kahn. It was first recorded in February 1931 by Ozzie Nelson and also by Wayne King and His Orchestra, with vocals by Ernie Birchill. A popular standard, it has seen more than 60 other versions recorded, with one of the highest chart ratings by The Mamas & The Papas in 1968 with Cass Elliot on lead vocals.
( – Wikipedia)
It’s one of those beautiful songs that I would love to cover one day. (It seems like a really fun idea to do a collection of jazz standards! The melodies, the lyrics, the stories they tell… I’m just in love with them.)
Here are the full lyrics, just for fun:
Stars shining bright above you
Night breezes seem to whisper “I love you”
Birds singing in the sycamore tree
Dream a little dream of me
Say “Night-ie night” and kiss me
Just hold me tight and tell me you’ll miss me
While I’m alone and blue as can be
Dream a little dream of me
Stars fading but I linger on, dear
Still craving your kiss
I’m longing to linger till dawn, dear
Just saying this
Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you
But in your dreams whatever they be
Dream a little dream of me
(Isn’t that just so nice?)