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#8 Fear of Songwriting or (If You're Stuck Before You’ve Even Started)

Sometimes there are just too many possibilities. The playing field is too large. The page is too blank. If it’s a matter of too many topics, just pick one using any method (dartboard, coin toss, alphabetical order), and make a list of the others to come back to.

Sometimes it goes deeper, to a question of “who do I think I am to write a song”, or some equally unproductive variation. At some point we all feel it. It doesn’t serve us.

In non-Covid times, this week would have been the 5th anniversary of the Ottawa Singer-Songwriter Camp. Typically on the first day, these sorts of issues come up. We need your song, because no one else can write it. If you feel you need permission of some sort to write your song, you have mine. And better still, please read Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Letter to Fear” from her book Big Magic. Out loud would be good. And then get to that song of yours. It’s waiting for you!

A Letter to Fear From “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert

Dearest Fear:

Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you'll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life and that you take your job seriously. Apparently your job is to induce complete panic whenever I'm about to do anything interesting – and, may I say, you are superb at your job. So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring. There's plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way . I recognize and respect that you are part of this family so I will never exclude your from our activities, but still – your suggestions will never be followed. You're allowed to have a seat and you're allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You're not allowed to touch the road maps; you're not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you're not even allowed to touch the radio . But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.

Elise Letourneau - Songwriting, Voice, PIano, Ukulele instructor

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