I’ve been writing a first draft of a post every morning. It may be published the next day, or in a week, or months later, or never. It just has to be written.
Day after day, how do you start?
You might try music.
I don’t listen to the same songs every morning — I don’t want to “wear them out” — but I also wonder about establishing a routine, where the repetition trains me to get into the writing mode. Hearing the familiar and well-grooved music, my fingers may automatically start doing what they need to do. The Muse may respond as if to the opening jingle of a favorite TV show, and come sit with me.
Miles Davis’s “So What” gets me started, just writing down some random thoughts of the morning in my journal. “Dear Diary” kinds of stuff. So what if it’s just rambling? My fingers are moving, and maybe soon ready to improvise. That’s what jazz is all about.
I turn to my drafts file as “So What” segues into “Freddie Freeloader,” and look at that! A whole paragraph spills out, just as Freddie is settling into that achingly cool theme. Miles on his trumpet, with the keys subtly backing it, and now I hear the soft thudding bass, too. The trumpet calls to me. I’m a snake being charmed out of a basket. My fingers tap out a hypnotized beat on my own keyboard.
Now John Coltrane ignites his saxophone and it’s like a booster rocket breaking us out of the atmosphere. Still the keys falling gently behind it and the soft bass, and here comes the trumpet again. I think. I don’t always have the best ear for instruments. The drums barely register for me, but I hear them when I listen for them, and my god, how do these guys do it?
We need more art in the world. More love. Less tedium and dreary necessity.
The piano takes another turn, still understated, still advancing the plot, and finally here is Miles with the haunting return of the first trumpet theme, letting us know that sadly, the end is near.
I wish I could speak more knowledgeably of music, but of course this is just fine as it is. You can love so much without having to understand it in words. You may not know the “right” words, but you can make your own words, “your own kind of music.”
“All you need is love,” someone said, and they said it with music.