The NSAI bulletin for the Los Angeles area Workshop

March-April 2000

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About Time

by Seth Jackson

Time is the most precious of all commodities.  We each have 24 hours in a day, and no amount of work, creativity, or bargaining can buy us any more.

Although many of us may view songwriting as a priority, the reality is that it doesn’t pay the bills for most of us. (Not yet, anyway!)  With all that we have going on in our lives, it can be a challenge to find time for our songwriting.

If you have all the time you need for songwriting, congratulations! Read no more! If you’re frustrated that there never seems to be enough time, the next step is to ask yourself why not?
 How we spend our time is partially a matter of necessity and partly a matter of choice. Sleeping, eating, and paying bills are necessities. Unless we have some other source of financial support, working is a necessity. Some of us have family obligations.

If the combination of these things leaves no time to write, then perhaps there are ways you can use time more efficiently. For example, carry a small tape recorder with you and record song ideas while driving to and from work. If you can’t block off three hours at once for songwriting, perhaps you can set aside ten or twenty minutes during the day to write ideas down.
 It may be that the time is available, but we choose not to take advantage of it. One reason for this might be that we feel uninspired, or that we have nothing to write about.

In this case, searching for inspiration becomes important. Sometimes, we can find inspiration simply by forcing ourselves to sit down with our instrument or a notebook and start writing. Other times, an activity reading a good book or seeing a good movie can stimulate creativity, as long as we’re careful not to choose these activities as a means of procrastination.

Fear of failure can be a powerful motivator for putting off writing songs. If you find that this is the case, it might be best to block off a fixed amount of time to sit down with a notebook and write. A good exercise is to time yourself for ten minutes, during which you must keep the pen moving on the paper. No matter what, don’t let the pen stop, even if you end up writing “I can’t think of anything” over and over again.

Often, just having the pen moving opens up a path to the creative right brain. The more we open ourselves up to the opportunity, the better chance we have of writing something good.

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March-April '00 Workshop Schedule

Workshop Location
Unless otherwise noted, workshops are held from 4-7p.m. at Musician's Institute, 1655 McCadden Place, just off Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood. Admission is free for NSAI members, $10 for non-members. For more information, call Craig Lackey at (310)319-9454 or email Seth Jackson at
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    Seth Jackson

    Seth Jackson
    Craig Lackey

    Cathy Carlson

    Lisa Blue Fasman

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