June 13, 2011 @ 12:33 pm
In an effort to make keeping this site updated a habit, I thought I’d draw up a quick post about inspiration. Inspiration can be a cold, cruel, fickle bitch sometimes. Especially when you need her. When you’ve been calling for days, leaving messages, checking to see if she’s online (maybe I’m taking this a little too far), and she just doesn’t answer. Then one day, you’re in the shower and she sneaks up and clobbers you with something so good, you’re scrambling for a pen or a recorder.
This seems to be happening to me a lot as of late. Not always in the shower of course, but almost always at a very inconvenient time. Shower, feeding the baby, driving, the middle of dinner. Now I’m not complaining! So all of you with writers block can go ahead and put down your pitchforks and torches. I suppose, after I’ve recorded the idea in one way or another, I try to understand what made my old friend inspiration suddenly return my calls. What was it about the pureed peas or the scent of my oh-so-manly body wash that brought it on? Of course, this path always leads to madness (or the dark side, depending on who you ask). My efforts to understand the seemingly random ways of inspiration have done nothing but scare her off and make me nuts.
So all I can do is make sure I’m ready when she arrives. In an effort to be better prepared I’ve done the following:
- Installed “Voice Recorder” for Android on my Nexus One: Simple recorder app that allows for auto-emailing after recording. I’m sure there are much more full featured apps out there, but this perfect because it allows me to record quickly and easily, and then transfer the recording to my workstation. It’s always with me (and within reach when I’m in the shower)
- Belkin GoStudio in the livingroom: When I’m not down in the studio, I spend most of my time in the livingroom. While I usually have my laptop or iPad with me, this is all about quickly laying down an idea before it’s gone without distractions. The GoStudio is great for that. With built in stereo mics for quick recording, especially if you’re not alone, and dual XLR-1/4″ combo jacks if you want to run a mic or guitar direct, it makes quick and clean recordings easy and portable. I’ve actually used some of the tracks recorded with it on some songs, the quality is that good (with a mic or direct).
- Notebook/notepad in pocket or nearby: Again, all about simplicity here. There are a million apps for both Android and iOS for capturing thoughts (Evernote comes to mind), but personally I find them all too cumbersome. Between my keyboard clumsiness to feature distraction, nothing beats good ol’ fashioned pen and paper for me. There’s something nice about the organic nature of paper, the scribbled corrections, and the evolution of the idea. That gets lost in digital to me. Besides, decades from now when I’m coming out of rehab for the 3rd time and have blown my millions MC Hammer style, I’ll be able to auction off my chicken scratch notes for “You don’t exist in Canada”. Hmm…now where did I put those…
I find that the more prepared I am for inspiration, the more it graces me with it’s presence. Maybe it’s just a matter of “flexing the muscle” or “you can’t do anything if you do nothing”. Either way, I still believe the prep is key. There is no worse feeling than being hit with that killer hook, liner, or riff and losing it to the ether because you didn’t dump it to a safe place fast enough.
It’s not so much about forcing the inspiration, as it is being ready for her when she comes a callin’. If you are, I think you’ll find that she respects your devotion and smiles upon you more often. And if not, there’s always exercising. -J