Monday, December 27, 2010

Writing Tools - a Writer's Friend

There are two sides of the writing process - the actual art being created, and the way we capture and portray that art. Both sides of this coin are necessary. For example, the most beautifully written concerto suffers greatly if it isn't given a proper performance and recording. And what good is a great recording if the song is only mediocre?

Though tools are important in the writing process, it is essential to remember where new art actually comes from: inspiration. I am confident this inspiration is not found in digital 1s and 0s as much as it is found in nature's leaves and raindrops. As wonderful as the newest and shiniest recording program or studio compressor is, it will never provide the fuel for a fresh new song in the same way that organic life does.

Jatropha hybrid - Leaf detail (129 DAS)
Photo by Ton Rulkens. Used with permission.
I believe our tendency is to look to these tools for salvation when we create, rather than to be on the lookout for true inspiration. The result can often (but not always) be heard on the radio - a sonic masterpiece that wouldn't stand up on its own when performed solo on guitar or piano. Our challenge when it comes to writing songs is to always remember that the inspiration and the tools with which we capture this inspiration are separate, yet connected. The metaphor that comes to mind is this:

Songwriter = conductor
Song = train
Writing tools = tracks
Inspiration = coal/fuel

In the coming weeks and months I am going to talk in more detail about the specific tools that I have found helpful in my own writing process. And please feel free to clue me in on the tools you find useful!

Keep writing,



  1. Good analagy Ben.

    makes perfect sense

  2. Thanks! It's helpful to remember that as the creator, we aren't bound by the tracks that have already been laid; we can take the song wherever it needs to go.