by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador
Singer/songwriter Paul Simon might know a little about writing and inspiration. 224 songs, 17 albums. 12 Grammys. Induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the first recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. He’s been writing and playing since he was 11 when he and Art Garfunkel became buddies. He’s now 70, still writing, making music and performing. I caught an interview he did with Wynton Marsalis for CBS This Morning. You can catch it here if you’re interested.
Here are some quotes from the interview:
“You don’t have to create it. It’s already in existence. You just have to reveal it.”
“I really had no concept about inspiration. I don’t think about inspiration. I don’t believe that you need inspiration. I don’t say that I’m going to wait around until some inspiration comes. No, if I’m going to write I have to go to my writing space, and you know, start to write.”
“I’m concentrating on what I can make and how can I do this without lying.”
I was really provoked by his comments on inspiration. You don’t need inspiration? What did he mean by that? Does he mean inspiration is not an illusive magic that writers and other creatives have to be subject or slave to?
To me, it seems he’s saying that writing is what he’s decided to do, and if it’s time to write, he goes and writes. He’s not waiting for the universe to align and the Muse to alight on his shoulder. He writes songs so if it’s time to write a song, that’s what he does.
I’d love to ask him more about that. I imagine every song he writes is not ‘The Song of Silence’ or ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’. There are probably a lot of mediocre songs in between. But he writes, and as he said, the good stuff reveals itself. That is inspirational. Don’t tell Paul I said so.
I personally use inspiration all the time. In fact, I have too much inspiration. Every time I turn around I’m getting ideas for writing. I didn’t say they were all GOOD ideas. But they keep bubbling up all the time. My problem is taking action on that inspiration. Getting to the sitting down and writing part. The creating part. The revealing part.