Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Ideas Sloshing Around In Your Head

One of my friends is a musician trapped in a bureaucrat's body. We get together once a week to talk during our lunch break and often discuss the topic of writing. While he has written, published, and recorded songs, my only writing outlet is this blog. Nevertheless, our common interest in the creative process makes for interesting discussions.

My friend recently related that a well-known songwriter told him that a person has to "have a life" in order to be able to write. A person cannot simply sit on top of a mountain or seclude himself in a cabin overlooking the ocean and expect a continuous flow of inspiration. Wisdom gained from a conversation or lessons learned from events in daily life often makes the best material.

As numerous bloggers have noted, writing on a consistent basis changes the way you look at the world. Writing enables you to make sense of all the ideas sloshing around in your head.

27 Comments:

At September 28, 2005 at 6:12:00 AM EDT, Blogger Shoshana said...

I have really gained such an appreciation for writing since starting my blog. It really helps me sort out a lot of things in my head, and I find that the more things that are going on in my life, the more I want to write to save those ideas or to try to figure them out.

 
At September 28, 2005 at 6:31:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Shoshana: Do you find there are times when you have absolutely nothing to write about? What do you do during these times?

 
At September 28, 2005 at 7:15:00 AM EDT, Blogger yitz said...

"V'haChayos ratzo v'shav, k'mareh haBazak - And the living [creatures] ran and returned, like the appearance of a flash of lightning." [Yechezkel, 1:14]

SJ, as someone whose involved in BOTH musical composition and writing, I find that WE NEED those "empty spaces," when we are not actively creative. Liquid cannot go into a container that is full - the emptier it is, the more liquid can enter. Similarly, when we are "empty" of our creative energy, is when we can fill ourselves up again, to create more...It's the cycle of life.

That, perhaps, is one of the things Yechezkel HaNavi is telling us in the pasuk I cited above. "Chayos" can also mean "life-force." Our creative energies are "ratzo v'shav", they go and come.

I cannot compose a new niggun when I am listening to a lot of music, especially new stuff - 'cause I'm taking in, I'm filling up. When I'm "empty" is when I have a chance to go deeper into myself and find that new inspiration I wasn't heretofore aware of.

And finally, maybe that's why we have Shabbos once a week. We are bombarded by so much noise, data, information via the phone, internet, radio, etc. all week long. On Shabbos, we turn it all off...and come into a deeper connection with our neshamos.

Perhaps that's why, too, some of the best niggunim [or Chiddushei Torah] were composed on either a Shabbos or a Yom Tov.

In today's world, the down side of that is that we can't record it or write it down on Shabbos. But then again, I suspect our memory works better on Shabbos [or Yom Tov] for that very reason.

Thanks for stimulating me to write this!

 
At September 28, 2005 at 7:20:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Yitz:

I really appreciated your insight on this issue! Thank you for taking the time to comment. Do you find that there is a particular place where you find you get the most inspiration for your writing and musical composition?

 
At September 28, 2005 at 7:23:00 AM EDT, Blogger Ezzie said...

Ask PsychoToddler!huf

 
At September 28, 2005 at 7:30:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Essie: Yes, especially this:

http://psychotoddler.blogspot.com/2005/09/i-have-to-blog-this.html

 
At September 28, 2005 at 8:02:00 AM EDT, Blogger yitz said...

SJ: I wouldn't say there's a particular place, but it's almost always when I'm alone - quiet time. Walking alone is great for inspiration - alone with just HaKadosh Baruch Hu, our heads become clear & we can get in touch with ourselves.

Again - here's where Shabbos & Yom Tov can be so inspirational - as we not running around in our cars or on buses, etc. but more likely to be walking to where we need to go.

But thank G-d I have also learned how important it is to walk during the week. And why daven in a shul that's "next door," but not necessarily a place you're at home davening in? Take a walk, even for 10 or 15 minutes, to a Shul you really like. You'd be surprised to find what wonderful inspiration you get "on the way." You haven't wasted time at all!!!

For my writing, most of my stuff, at least lately, is seasonally oriented - so now in Elul-Tishrei it's going to reflect that, for example - or the parsha of the week.

The Yahrzeit of a great Tzaddik often inspires me to write about him, for another example. Check out my blog for more!

 
At September 28, 2005 at 8:30:00 AM EDT, Blogger MC Aryeh said...

I definitely find most of my creative inspiration - both in writing and artwork - comes during times of tzimzum, when I am not involved in the world. In the shower, on a walk in a park over shabbat (sometimes repeating an idea over and over to myslef so I don't lose it before shabbat ends!), in the middle of the night just as I am about to fall asleep. Interacting with the world informs the content, but the actual creative flow comes in the quiet.

Writing and artwork help me to better understand myself and process my experiences, and reflect them back to the world.

Being a "musician trapped in a beaurocrat's body" has always been one of my greatest fears...

Regarding the quote below from the Sefer Chassidim: I always imagined it the other way. As something is turning around in your mind, it has possession of you; once it is out into the world, you are free of its hold. I guess it depends on what it is...

 
At September 28, 2005 at 8:55:00 AM EDT, Blogger torontopearl said...

For the majority (I'm guessing) of blog writers, it's the day-to-day life, the mundane things that we choose to write about. You might see the same things I do, but your perception/experience is different--much like looking into a kaleidescope. The colored prisms fall and align themselves a different way for every tiny movement. I can look into that scope and see a sunburst, you can look into it and it's suddenly become a fire cloud.

I continually have ideas "sloshing around my head"-- I try to remember them for later use in blogging, or I write down the catch phrase and refer to it later.

I believe you can find inspiration in ANYTHING, even if you're living a solitary life up in a mountain cabin, but the likelihood of having a more colorful inspiration to write about stems from interaction: with people, animals and nature.

 
At September 28, 2005 at 9:12:00 AM EDT, Blogger Shoshana said...

ASJ -

I do have periods when I don't have much to write about, and it sometimes distresses me a bit, but they rarely last very long. When they do occur, I read, or talk to friends, and usually something comes to mind that I feel like writing about. Sometimes all I have to do is walk around by myself and watch the happenings around me, and thoughts start coming to me that I want to pursue.

My problem is usually remembering all the little bits and pieces I want to write about but elude me when I have time to sit down and work them out. I often have trouble keeping my focus and hanging onto thoughts for very long, that's really the reason I started a separate blog for my little thoughts.

If nothing comes, I don't write, or I write things that I know aren't so thoughtful and deep, but it does get the thought process flowing. It's funny, because sometimes when I finally find the time to sit down and write, it doesn't come. For me, writing is more of a spontaneous process than a planned one. Maybe one day I will manage to extend my focus to a greater period of time than 20 minutes.

 
At September 28, 2005 at 9:12:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Yitz, MCAryeh, Pearl:

I am lucky to have times to myself during the day. Namely, my mile walk to public transportation each morning and evening. Perhaps I have been trying to force ideas recently because it seems like now I don't even come up with anything during this time while I am walking. I am considering a blogging vacation until after Simchas Torah. I haven't decided anything 100% yet, but I am still considering it.

 
At September 28, 2005 at 9:16:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Shoshana: I appreciate your thoughts on this. Perhaps what you are saying is that I need to take a break.

 
At September 28, 2005 at 9:31:00 AM EDT, Blogger torontopearl said...

In essence we are/we should be keeping blogs for our own needs, not that of our readers. But it is still disheartening to me to put all of myself, including my heart, into writing a particular post and not getting ONE comment about it, and then writing some frivolous, mindless piece that gets 10 comments. Does that mean that my readers are more superficial, don't want to get to the heart and soul of the matter?

My problem is that I have TOO much to say usually; I don't want to take a blogging holiday, but I know with the coming Yom Tov schedules, I will be taking a self-imposed holiday because I have no other choice.

 
At September 28, 2005 at 9:38:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Pearl: You hit the nail on the head. The question is who am I writing this blog for? It is 50% for me and 50% my readers. Although now the 50% that is" not for me" is starting to feel burdensome.

 
At September 28, 2005 at 9:51:00 AM EDT, Blogger yitz said...

All good thoughts were expressed here. SJ, there's nothing wrong with taking a break if that's what you need. Certainly, with "the Chagim" upon us, it's a natural time for that. I imagine your readership will rejoin you when you return. I don't know why, though, you feel you must post EVERY day. Who says???

Perhaps I'm still new at blogging, I hardly get comments, but I know [some] people read me. I'm just starting to inform my e-mail friends of my blog, so I imagine I'll begin to get some more. Also, my blog is more "special interest" than most...

But Pearl is right - post for yourself - you readers will enjoy it too!

 
At September 28, 2005 at 10:01:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Yitz:

You are right. I shouldn't feel that I need to post everyday and as of today I will take break from blogging until after Simchas Torah. If I find that I have something to write. I will write it down and post it then.

Thanks again!

 
At September 28, 2005 at 10:22:00 AM EDT, Blogger torontopearl said...

ASJ, do what you have to do. But know this: after Simchas Torah is a l...o...n...g way off from now.

I can just picture your readers clutching on to your leg -- like in some melodramatic movie scene --as you walk away from us. They're being dragged along as you walk away because they don't want to loosen their grip, and they're yelling, "NO! Don't go...don't leave us. Don't leave us for so long..."

[or then again, picture your son and daughter at a very young age as they clutch you around the knees and don't want you to leave them! ;) ]

 
At September 28, 2005 at 10:28:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Pearl: You too are right. For the time being I will just post sporadically. While I am on empty today, who knows what will be tomorrow?

 
At September 28, 2005 at 10:46:00 AM EDT, Blogger yitz said...

In less than a month from now, ALL the Tishrei holidays will be over. True, that's a lot of time in Cyberspace - but in Jewish space, we'll all be busy in Shul, davening, etc. then busy building our Sukkos, buying our 4 Minim, beating our Hoshanas, dancing with our Torah - in short, a perfect time for a break!!!

As Reb Shlomo Carlebach would say, "Good Shabbos, Gut Yom Tov!"

 
At September 28, 2005 at 10:51:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Thanks Yitz. As I just told Pearl in an e-mail, I actually just came up with a little something for tomorrow that I plan to post. I will, however, be posting sporadically through Tishrei.

May Hashem bless you and your family with a year of gezunt, parnossa, and nachas!

 
At September 28, 2005 at 12:36:00 PM EDT, Blogger yitz said...

To you, too, brother! I look forward to those occasional Tishrei posts, and hope the juices will be filled to overflowing in Ram-Cheshvan!

Shana Tova to you & yours, all the best!

 
At September 28, 2005 at 2:05:00 PM EDT, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

I want to echo something that Yitz said somewhere...up there...

I find that my best creations come to me when I'm not looking for them. That holds true for my music and my writing. I rarely find myself in a position of, "OMG I have to write a song. Let me put some chords together." Usually, like with this last song, it comes to me (often on Shabbos or Yom Tov, which, while it adds a layer of spirituality to the music, is reaaaaally inconvenient because I can't write it down).

Same goes for blogging. I have no need to do a daily post. If I have nothing to say, I'll say nothing. But usually, before the morning has passed, 2 or three ideas will have come to me and I feel the need "flush them out" so they don't get stuck in my bottle.

Yitz is right. You need some quiet time. The muse will hit you when it's ready.

 
At September 28, 2005 at 2:17:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

PT: Thanks for your input. It is interesting that you wrote, "I find that my best creations come to me when I'm not looking for them." I too realize this to be the truth and have found sometimes I try to force myself into the "not looking" mode but still come up short. It is nothing you can force. Ideas just come to us and we have to be in tune to identify them.

Perhaps the reason I couldn't think of anything today because I still have your song in my head ;)

 
At September 28, 2005 at 2:20:00 PM EDT, Blogger Alice said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At September 28, 2005 at 2:32:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Alice: Thanks for asking your husband this question. Your feedback is appreciated as always!

 
At September 29, 2005 at 2:01:00 PM EDT, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

There is so much rattling in my head that I never seem to run out of ideas. I don't know why, just that this is so.

 
At September 29, 2005 at 2:05:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Jack: Yes, you are certainly a prolific blogger! :)

 

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