I posted something on Facebook last Saturday, and I’d like to discuss it a little more. The gist of it is I believe this thing we call “inspiration” happens because of the work done leading up to it. I suppose there may be exceptions, but I’d say 99.9% of the time, Eureka! moments happen because someone has spent significant time honing their craft.

I do have some experience. I’ve written and released over 100 songs. Some are better than others, but every one involved effort. I put in the time learning how to write and actually writing, and produced results. I’ve had ideas come when I least expected them - driving, at work, laying in bed, etc. - and of course, while I’ve had a guitar in my hands. But, it occurred to me that inspiration has never struck if I wasn’t actively engaged in the writing process.

By contrast, when I consistently work on writing songs - lyrics, music, or both - the so-called muse will speak at seemingly random times. Why might that be?

I have an idea.

I graduated from Musician’s Institute. They threw A LOT of material at students in a short period of time, but they also taught what they thought was the best way to learn it. I’ve discussed this before, so I’ll be brief. Essentially, you set aside however much time you have. Let’s say an hour. You write a schedule; say 10 minutes each on an exercise, a scale, a new piece of music, a difficult chord change, ear training, and sight reading. You literally set a timer for 10 minutes, start it, and work the first item on your list. When the timer goes off, you stop right where you are, and move on to the next thing. When you’re done, you’re done.

Of course, how much time you set aside depends on your schedule, and the intervals depend on your ability to focus. Maybe you have a 5 minute break in there.

This method works. I still use it today.

One theory on why it works was/is that even when you’re not working on something, your subconscious mind is. I can’t say whether or not that’s true, but it would explain why inspiration strikes seemingly out of the blue. 99% perspiration, 1% inspiration.

I believe that’s about right.


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