Relaxed Writer: The Importance of Staying Loooose

You guys know I love me some hip hop — the rawness, the energy, the Dr. Seussical lyrics. (Hey, I never claimed to possess any level of sophistication.) The ToolMaster, however, is not a fan. In fact, when referencing popular music, the word “loathsome” may have crossed his ToolMasterish lips. 

That’s okay. He’s purty, so I tolerate him anyway. 😉

However, I cannot disagree with one point he makes: the formulaic nature of recent popular music. In fact I said to Molly the other day I was going to scream if I heard one more song about female strippers. Dudes, know what? When you enter a strip club and flash bills, you’re going to find yourself in the company of hot bitches. This is not a surprise. 

Money is a powerful silicone attractant. 

Anyway, check out the video below. These are two guys who decided to write, record and videotape a song which would possess the attributes of a Top 40 hit. The catch? They gave themselves an 8-hour time limit and still went for a Red Robin run while the clock continued its countdown.


Now, this was intended as a lark, but according to an article  in The Times Colonist, here:

Wallace and Bennett, 21, have since fielded emails from numerous companies and representatives, including BlackBerry and KISS bassist Gene Simmons, who reached out to the Victoria natives on behalf of his label, Simmons Records.

The KISS braintrust knows a hit when he hears one: The Bennett-Wallace novelty song, Lights, Camera, Action, which is available for free, has been downloaded more than 5,000 times.

If you want to skip to the song, it begins at 6:05. Over 400,000 hits already, peeps. (There’s a link to download it in the comments section, if you’re interested.)

Why did I want to talk about this, besides the fact it’s a decent piece, and who doesn’t like to root for the underdog? Well, I think there are some underlying ideas that relate to writing:

1. We generally do our best work when engaged, but loose; when we keep an element of play in our work and focus on joy, rather than outcome.

2. Even though these guys had a lot of fun, they are not complete newbies to constructing music.

  • They have an understanding of song structure, even in a genre they mock.
  • They understand how to use their equipment.
  • They know how to use social media.

They are a good example of the iceberg effect, in that all those preceding artistic efforts they made — the ones that didn’t appear to bear fruit — helped prepare them for this experience. So, too, when we write letters, blog posts, tweets — really, when we write anything which communicates ideas — we’re growing our competence.

3. It’s possible to replicate the conditions in #1 if you notice what’s worked in the past.

I’m someone who likes to push and push and push myself, but that’s often counterproductive to creative pursuits, especially the 1st draft of writing. But there are ways to regain playfulness and still move forward.

Last week, for instance, I found my rest and reinspiration in writing a bawdy poem. 🙂 I even submitted it to The New Yorker last night, just because. I figure if/when I get rejected, I might as well have my ego trounced by some of the best in the biz. 🙂

Do you have tricks for restoring fun to your writing or your day job? What do you do to loosen up when you’re choking the life from your work?

7 thoughts on “Relaxed Writer: The Importance of Staying Loooose

  1. I love “the iceberg effect” and also am pleased for the link. DS is taking a class in sound recording, so I get to forward this to him and look like I know what’s going on in the world.

    Restoring fun? I do something that I hope will make somebody else smile. Make a silly card, take some silly pictures, do some crazy art project. Or, I take a walk.

    Good luck with your bawdy submission! I remember when the New Yorker was renowned for its rejection letter – a form letter that apparently had a typo in it. People I knew submitted just to get a copy of that letter.

    And Googling to find out more about that New Yorker letter led me to a lovely, though too-long, essay on editing and writing and rejection and saying YES. You know, that may be the key to restoring fun: YES.

    Here’s the essay:

    1. MJ, I’d love to know what your son thinks of the link. And thank you for the wishes. Is there a special phrase we writers should use, like “break a leg”? It strikes me I don’t know.

      As for the YES part, I agree. Yes is a powerful word! 🙂

  2. Made me laugh about the hot bitches *LAUGHING*

    As for the video – You Tube has become the new “I was discovered in the drug store/garage/pub” arena! Lawd – good for them 😀 Makes me laugh.

    This post is timely for me – for I’d put so many pressures on myself with this latest book, and for the first time in I don’t recall, maybe ever, I avoided my manuscript. But I found that place again, and now the words will come 😀

    Ah Miz Tart , love coming by here!

  3. A good reminder! Fun can get edited out of the writing routine, and I decided that 2011 is The Year of Fun. There’s only 11 months left to have fun, so we may have to pick up the pace. 🙂

  4. *tacklehugs jan*
    Thanks to this post, I woke up yesterday FINALLY knowing my antagonist’s true motivation and goal. YEE-HA! Thank you, Jan.

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