2. Motivation / Dry Spells
3. Creative Principles
4. Helping Factors
5. Miscellaneous Concerns
Why can't I get motivated to write?
The best incentive is a performance date on the calendar. Don't worry about being inspired. Just make that small effort to sit down and start writing. The rest will follow in and of itself. In a broader sense, most composers write because they have "s omething to say." You should examine yourself to see if you really have the urge or compulsion to create.
Why is it that I never seem to have any time for composing?
It is human nature to do the trivial, mechanical things first while avoiding what is truly important. Too often, composing is relegated to one's spare time. Set aside a regular time for your own, most important work, and then STICK TO IT as if it were a salaried position. Everyone's time is spread out over so many activities. First decide what you really want to do with your time and, when the opportunity arises, simplify your life accordingly. It's a matter of choice. If you speak with most succes sful composers, you will find that their lives have mission and focus.
What accounts for the "dry spells" I experience while composing?
After you develop craft as a composer, this will not be a problem. For that, it is most important that you write and write and write! No time is ever wasted while in the act of composing -- even if there is no tangible result. There are any number of r emedies that have been tried:
- Take a walk. -- Physical activity seems to stimulate the creative centers in the brain.
- Drink a cup of coffee. -- Caffeine (in moderation!) really will do that.
- Open the window. -- Oxygen is necessary for normal brain cell function.
- Do something completely different for a few minutes. -- the Monty Python solution: "And now, for something completely different!"
- Study a musical score or listen to a recording. -- Appropriate an idea and make it your own! Say it in your own way.
- Austerity: walk barefoot in the snow (Beethoven). -- not recommended.
- Luxury: wear fine silks and lie on soft pillows (Wagner).
- Fasting: always consult your physician before going on a diet.
What do I do when I get stuck after writing only a few measures?
Analyze what you have already written. Then consider one of the following options: A/A -- repeat "A" exactly. A/A' -- present a varied repetition (development) of "A." A/B -- follow "A" with contrasting material. These simple choices apply to all lev els of composition: motivic, phrase, section and movement. The best place to look for a new idea is in what you've already written.
- James Fry
- April 17, 1996
Please give credit to the author if you reproduce or use parts of this FAQ.