COUNTRY NOTES

The NSAI bulletin for the Los Angeles area Workshop

September-October 1999


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Finding the Muse

by Seth Jackson

I never have writer’s block. Don’t think of that as a boast. I might feel unproductive, uninspired, tired, depressed, or like I’m not coming up with anything good. I just choose not to think of those times as “writer’s block.”  That label seems to give power to the feeling and makes it bigger.  I may not feel like writing at a given moment, but I know my feelings can change from moment to moment or day to day.  All it takes is a burst of energy and/or inspiration.

If we aspire to be professional songwriters, we need to be able to write new songs on a regular, consistent basis. Everyone has dry spells, but we need to keep them as infrequent and as short a duration as possible if we plan on doing this for a living. So, what to do?

Ironically, the goal of writing for a living can in and of itself become the cause of a dry spell. Nothing can stifle creativity more easily than the pressure to write a hit. So step one in recharging the creative battery is to remember the reason for writing songs in the first place - songwriting is supposed to be fun!

Now that some of the pressure is off, it’s time to look for inspiration, and nothing inspires me like a good song idea. For me, a good song idea is one that tickles my fancy for whatever reason. It comes in the form of a clever twist of a phrase, a cool rhyme, a statement I want to make to the world, a compelling story or situation, etc.

I find that the key to coming up with good song ideas is to be on the lookout for them, even at times when I’m not sitting down to write. I like to think that the creative force exists in the world at all times, and that the more I keep the antenna out in search of it, the more I can tap into that force.

Like many writers, I keep a “hook book” of song ideas I’ve come up with for times when I need ideas. Still, I like to use the hook book as a last resort. A brand new idea can be more exciting. But sometimes, I can be inspired by going back to one of my old songs. Some of those songs were good ideas that I couldn’t quite pull off at the time. Finally making those old ideas work can also serve as a yardstick to measure my growth as a writer.


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September-October '99 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 and NAS members, $10 for non-members. For more information, call Craig Lackey at (310)319-9454 or email Seth Jackson at webmaster.hitmeister@mindspring.com.

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Member News

Seth Jackson’s rock band Loudspeaker has their CD “Speak Up!” available on the Internet at www.mp3.com/loudspeaker and www.musicbuilder.com/loudspeaker.


Events

Tuesday, September 21, 8:00pm-11:30pm - Jody Siegel’s South Bay Beat presents a songwriter showcase at The Tea House, 25318 Crenshaw Blbd., Torrance, CA, (310)326-5420. Featuring: Freebo, Randy Weeks, Harold Payne, Maia Sharp, Mojo Monkeys, Danny Timms, Mark Shark, Warren Sellars, Arleen Nicastro, Craig Lackey, Mel Harker, Larry Gardner.


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Los Angeles Area NSAI Members - DO YOU HAVE:

Let us know, so we can tell the world what you're up to! Submit to Country Notes by sending e-mail to webmaster.hitmeister@mindspring.com. Submissions must be received by 12:00 noon on the 15th of each month for the following month's issue.

Items will be printed subject to space and editorial limitations. 


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NSAI LOS ANGELES WORKSHOP VOLUNTEERS

EDITOR:
Seth Jackson
WORKSHOP COORDINATORS:
Seth Jackson
Craig Lackey
TREASURER:
Vickie Vining
EVENT COORDINATOR:
Cathy Carlson
COMMITTEE MEMBERS:
Lisa Blue Fasman

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