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Are you as professional as a Nashville songwriter?

Do you wait until inspiration strikes to write a song? Or can you turn on the inspiration faucet anytime you need it?

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Nashville country music may or may not be your favourite genre, but there's no doubting it makes a heck of a lot of money. And if it makes a heck of a lot of money, that means it is pleasing a heck of a lot of people. Heck yeah.

One of the features of the Nashville music business is that it is very much a business. Any aspiring songwriter who wants to get ahead in Nashville cannot afford to wait until inspiration strikes to write a song. On the contrary, they need to be able to write to a schedule, and write as many songs in as short a time period as their publisher tells (not asks) them to.

Here are some video clips that reminded me of this. The act is Ward Thomas, consisting of twin sisters Catherine and Lizzie Ward Thomas, who are - would you believe it? - English. And yes, England still does have some country left that hasn't been built over, and in any case country in this context is an attitude, not an actual sovereign state that is a member of the UN in its own right (thanks Pointless).

So let me start by showing you what Ward Thomas sounds like...

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Well that sounds pretty good to me, and there's something even better coming along soon.

But what about the professionalism of songwriting in Nashville? Here's a clip from the interview (on the BBC's South Today program)...

That really does put things into perspective. In Nashville you're expected to turn up, presumably with the producer or a co-writer, and write. And the writing session has a set duration, within which you had better come up with something of value, inspiration or no.

It's worth considering how you can turn on inspiration like a tap, or faucet if you prefer. The answer is to practise your craft. As a personal instance, I started writing about audio and music production in - wait for it - 1986. When I started I had zero experience in writing and it was bloody hard work. But now after these very many years, I have trained my subconscious mind to look for inspiration 24/7. Inspiration is all around, ready to be plucked out of the air. And when I need to write, I pick an idea that has been brewing in my subconscious mind and just write, to the level of my ability. Then I correct all the typos (or m0st of them).

As a further tip, I would suggest that if you struggle for inspiration in any field of creative expression, one useful method is to apply lateral thinking, as popularised back in the 1960s by Edward de Bono. It's a sequence of processes that you can go through which will get you from a blank page to a full suite of inspiration for your work of art or craft. Give it a look.

OK that's enough of me. I said there was something good coming up, and here it is. Ward Thomas performing their song No Filter with just a simple guitar accompaniment on South Today. Take a look and listen, then find their work on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and all the usual outlets...

By David Mellor Thursday February 7, 2019
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