Art of the Song

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Art of the Song

Writing and Self-Doubt

By Eileen Kalinowski | Posted June 1, 2007 | Updated November 12, 2019

There's a pull between my heart and my head, and when I'm writing, my heart needs to hold sway.

When I've written a line of melody, or lyrics, and I stop to question whether what I've said is right or true or just too 'out there' I need to just keep going.

My self doubt sounds like this: Is this true? Do I really mean this? Was it that bad? Or that good? Or that anything? Isn't that an exaggeration, Eileen?

I'm much better off ignoring the mental notes at this point in the process, because it's the same kind of help as watching my feet when I'm learning to dance with a new partner, or watching my fingers to make them play the right notes when I play the piano.  And that's no help at all.

Sometimes the truest things I say are the ones I've never thought before, never heard in my own mind before. It's how creativity takes me to better things, new ideas, new connections.

That act of discovery, feeling my way out on a limb, is what makes writing exciting and fun and also scary and cathartic and amazing. When I've drifted away from my writing, this is the experience that I miss most, that brings me back, that tension between what I thought I knew and what I'm just now realizing is true for me.

One of the best things about knowing other writers and artists is sharing this part of the process…other people have helped me make friends with this brand new knowing in me. Until then, I dismissed a lot of images as stupid or silly because I'd never heard them said before…by anyone else, and I didn't trust what was emerging from way down deep inside me.

But if you keep going there, keep allowing things to bubble up, you get more comfortable with it, and can take some real delight in it. It doesn't have to be a brilliant insight every single time, it probably won't be any one thing every single time. But accepting what comes, what feels like it belongs, somehow, is a good beginning. And there's always time for rewrites!

©2007 Eileen Kalinowski. All rights reserved.

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Eileen KalinowskiEileen Kalinowski sings, produces music, freelance writes, and is a member of the Taos Coalition to End Homelessness. ...