Tuesday, December 1, 2009

In praise of my inner critic

Last week I wrote a line for a song I'm working on. Honed it a bit. My inner editor said, It's OK. Could lead to something good if we add supporting lyrics elsewhere. Otherwise it doesn't quite connect.

Tonight I swapped out one word in that line for another one. Something that tied in more strongly with the surrounding words.

Yes, said my critic. Yes. That's it.

Some people say you shouldn't censor yourself when you create a first draft. Just go with the flow, edit later. The implication, I think, is that editing inhibits creativity. That you do yourself harm by badmouthing your creation while it's in progress.

Maybe they're right. Still, I'm loathe to silence my editor at any stage of the process. Yes, it slows me down. Yes, it tells me what I've done isn't good enough. But mostly it tells me I can do better.

And when I listen to it, I do better.

Works for me.


Lyndon Wesley said...

Yeah, I certainly know that feeling. I do find that my natural response is to edit as I go. However, I'm not sure I should trust my natural responses. My natural impulse on seeing a scab is to pick it and when I pass a car crash, naturally I want to look.

I am finding liberty and creativity in leaving off my editors hat until much later in the process. It's tough at times but rewarding in the long run, but hey, there's no method now is there?!

Thanks for your sweet little blog.

Kris Green said...

I've been enjoying your blog. Jen and I were discussing your cd and googling brought me here. Glad I found it, Kris.

SongNote said...

Thanks so much for your thoughtful response to my blog on 'verbing' the songwriting process :)
I enjoyed your post here. It is a funny conundrum isn't it. I reckon it maybe depends on the tone of voice of the inner critic. When it comes dressed up as creative director, it seems to come with a sword, that though a little sharp, will shape the best design out of your work. When it turns up just to criticise it's more like a bludgeon -aimless and destructive!
Where could I listen to your music?

cinderkeys said...

Kris! Glad you found me. *hug* My e-mail address is in my profile somewhere if you also feel like dropping a line.

Re natural impulses: they may not be terribly noble, but sometimes they make sense. The same urges that make you want to rubberneck a car crash probably also lead you to do things that keep you safe, or to investigate things in your environment that are out of the ordinary.

It's when you become obsessed with the scabs and car wrecks of life that it's not healthy. I'm a fan of moderation. I suppose the equivalent in songwriting is to keep the editor on enough of a leash that it doesn't interfere with spontaneous creative thoughts.

Or, as SongNote put it, make sure the editor is a creative director and not a sadistic bully. :)

We have Cinder Bridge songs on myspace.com/cinderbridge, and our CD at cdbaby.com/cinderbridge. I'd love to know what you think.