Lindsay Brazell

Music Educator and Creative Professional

Feeling Like Me Again

Have you ever had a hobby or activity that you used to do almost every day, or to some amount of high frequency, and then at some point in your life you found yourself almost never doing it? That was me with songwriting for about the last 3-5 years.

I always tell people that I had more gigs and wrote more songs in my late teens than I ever did in my entire 20s. I typically smile and laugh when I tell people that, but it actually hurts my heart to think about it. Something that was such a huge part of who I am and how I identified myself was becoming less associated with me by the day. How could I call myself a songwriter when I hadn’t written a song in years?

And believe me, I tried. I would try to sit down and make myself write and I either came up with terrible material, or I’d start something decent and never finish it. It was an issue of time to a large extent, becoming highly involved with my school and choral program. I certainly don’t regret that as I loved my job, but there was definitely a lack of work/life balance. And you know what…sometimes I just wanted to come home and sit and be. (Teachers, can I get an AMEN?!) But as hard as this is to admit, it was also an issue of feeling completely uninspired.

Saying that makes me feel terrible, because there were so many great things going on in my world! I was a newlywed, had a wonderful job, and had (and still have!) incredible friends. I could have written a song called, “Life Is So Great Right Now,” with several points of inspiration. But I didn’t, and honestly, I couldn’t. Every time I tried to write I either hated what was coming out or I was at a loss of words.

Fast forward 4 years, we have left South Carolina, moved to Mississippi, and now returned to Greenville and suddenly there is inspiration again. I’ve written one complete song that I’m really excited about, and have started 1-2 others that, so far, I don’t hate. Kyle even got me a songwriting class at the Peace Center for Christmas (let’s hear it for the best husband EVER!!) and spent an entire Saturday with professional songwriters, and aspiring songwriters like myself who are from this area! The Peace Center is trying to create a space for the songwriting community in Greenville, and I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of it!

Maia Sharp, Randy Sharp, Me, and David Ryan Harris

But I tell you all of this to share some things I’ve learned during the 4-year creative dry spell.

Forcing myself to be creative doesn’t always work for me.

Forcing myself to be creative when I have an idea is what works. Rather than storing the idea in my phone, I should just immediately get my guitar and pen and paper, or that idea is going to be out of my hands and into someone else’s. (By the way, you should read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Such a fantastic book on living a creative life!!)

I am now accepting the need for the editing process.

I used to think that once I had all the parts to a song and I was happy with it that it was done. I know, that’s crazy. Sometimes my lyrics would change tenses from verse to chorus, and while a listener may not notice it, that doesn’t change that the lyrics just doesn’t make sense. Now, I’m more aware of words that serve a purpose rather than “filler” words that are only there to make a rhythm fit or make a line rhyme better. Editing is hard, and re-writing something that you thought you were done with is annoying, but in the end the song is a lot better. And in one tense.

My strength is and has always been in writing music, so I should devote more time to writing lyrics.

The more I practice writing lyrics, the stronger I will be at saying what I want to say in a concise manner that lends itself to music. Previously when I would write, I would write music and melodies first and try to fit words into a melody, which often led to vague lyrics or poor storytelling. I almost feel a little foolish for coming to this realization now, as this is a practice technique most musicians learn early in musical study: practice the passages that you find difficult first, and then play all the parts that come naturally. Practicing the things you are good at already is like only working out your arms. It leaves out other muscles, and you’ll probably look really weird.

 

I never want something that brings me joy to be absent from my life on account of my own habits. However, I know that we experience seasons of life, habits and hobbies may change. I’m hoping this is a brand new season that will bring forth new music and new inspiration.

If there is something in your life that is not playing as strong a role as it used to, don’t worry! It will return if you want it to!

 

NOTE: Some links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you click on it, and end up making a purchase through that website, I will make a small commission. This helps me pay the internet rent here at LindsayBrazell.com. 

About Lindsay

I’m Lindsay, a choral music educator by day, a singer-songwriter by evening, and a writer when time allows. You can find my latest album, The Room I Found – Lindsay Morelli on iTunes.

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