Creative ways to avoid creativity

Long time readers will be familiar with my perennial writing humblebrag, to whit: I am an Olympic-standard procrastinator. All false modesty aside, I could stall for my country. My whole planet, even. If  the aliens invading Earth turn out to be vulnerable to weapons powered by unmitigated dithering, then stand aside Flash Gordon. I’ll save every one of us.


Oh, wait a minute, that’s a bad thing, isn’t it?

Well, not always. Lately I’ve been doing a tiny bit of prose writing, though not as much as I’d like. But in lieu of wordcount on my (count ’em) five current works in progress, lately I’ve channelled my creative urges in unexpected artistic directions. 

As my writer bio mentions, I’ve been laboriously teaching myself to play the bass guitar for the last five years. In that time there’s been no agenda other than to get a little better as time goes by.  My level of technical accomplishment now sits broadly around the”more or less okay” level. (Let’s just say Bootsy Collins and John Entwhistle are probably safe for now).

Recent developments have put a bit of pressure on that agenda. For secret reasons I can’t reveal until the time is right, there’s some urgency to the project. I need to get better. I need to learn how to play specific musical pieces.  Worse than that, I’ll need to get comfortable standing up to play my instrument, rather than hunching over it while sitting on an office chair. And I definitely need to get over my anxiety about other people being present while I play. 

In other words, I need to practice with intent. Something I’m never comfortable with, and also the exact habit I’ve been shirking for the last couple of years when it comes to writing. 

Speaking of writing, I haven’t totally stopped. What I’ve done instead is branch off in a new direction, at least for a little while.

I’m writing songs.

Well, to be clear, I’m writing lyrics, which I then hand over to my musical buddy Evan. It’s his job to turn my sometimes-erratic scansion and inconsistent rhymes into actual songs. Luckily he’s great at that, so overall it’s a pretty good partnership. One of these days we might even get together to record them, though obviously we don’t really know when that will be. The future’s uncertain and all that. I’ll let you know when it happens.

What I’ve I’ve enjoyed about songwriting is that it seems to be easy for me to get into the zone. I can sit down for a writing session, think about it for a couple of minutes, and half an hour later I’ll be done. Are they always great songs? No, of course not. But they are fun, and more importantly, they feel to me like a pathway back into regular prose writing.

I hope so. I have a lot of stories I need to get out of my system.

Edit: Just to be clear about what I’m up against here, I started writing this blog post on the 26th of July. Today as I’ve finishing this up, it’s the 25th of August. This process is going to be slow. (But I have written three more songs in the interim!)

Followup edit: Also, the “secret reason” for me to redouble my guitar playing has fallen through for a while, but I’m still working at it. As of right now I am in the ballpark of Dee Dee Ramone, who usually played a maximum of four or five notes per song (but played them more often in two and a half minutes than I ever will!)

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