Songwriters, You Need to Read What Nick Cave Says About the ‘Process’
It's no secret I'm a huge simp for goth icon Nick Cave, whose prolific and poetic catalog of songs represent a body of well-crafted, exquisite work.
I am not a songwriter, but I do write. And honestly, anyone with any passion for a creative medium can take Nick Cave's response to a fan's recent question to heart:
How do you know when you have written something worthwhile? What is your process?
It's a big question and Nick has a big answer. He's actually had several big answers over the course of the last year, engaging fans in a forum called The Red Hand Files, named after what is probably his best know song, Red Right Hand. This song has provided the soundtrack to movies, television shows, and has been covered by everyone from the Artic Monkeys to, no kidding, Snoop Dog. Here's the original for your listening pleasure:
Obviously, this man knows how to craft a compelling song. So how DO you know what you've written is worthwhile? Here's an excerpt from his answer:
Often, the beautiful idea that has formed is at first unrecognizable to us. We don’t see it for what it is, because it is new and implausible... So, we continue to wait. But while we wait we must remain prepared and alert, and one way to do so is to write things down, in order to advance the idea, as this indicates a readiness to receive.
In other words, write... a lot. And be open to rewriting the same idea, concept, or epiphany over and over until it is a polished, meticulous thing.
Many people make the mistake of believing that good writing pours out of a person as if from a mystical fount. That the writer simply vomits up a completed work like a virgin birth. While I am sure some writers may have had some success just spouting off a stream-of-conscious story, that idea is largely just a romantic view of a process that is actually hard, detailed, and dedicated work.
To read Nick's full answer, which is so heart-rendingly lovely, check out the Red Hand Files.
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