I wrote my first song when I was 14 years old. Over the years, I’ve composed hundreds of songs. It was that interest — music — that led me to take a year off from pursuing a doctorate and led me down the circuitous path that has been the rest of my life.
I don’t write songs nowadays, more focused on screenplays and writing about writing. But I can’t help but think at least some of who I am as a writer derives from all that time studying and composing songs.
Each day this week at this time, I will post insight from a songwriter about their craft in the hope their words may inspire you as a writer.
Today: PJ Harvey.
“If you want to be good at anything, you have to work hard at it. It doesn’t just fall from the sky. I work every day at trying to improve my writing, and I really enjoy it. Nothing fascinates me more than putting words together, and seeing how a collection of words can produce quite a profound effect.”
Okay, we’ve all seen various declarations that we have to work hard — damn hard! — to become a good writer.
Helpful to hear from time to time, but we know this: If you want to be good at anything, you have to work hard at it.
It’s the other observation by Harvey that catches my eye:
“Nothing fascinates me more than putting words together, and seeing how a collection of words can produce quite a profound effect.”
It speaks to an affection for language.
It speaks to an affection for writing process.
It speaks to an affection for stories themselves, how they can have a “profound effect” on people.
Yes, we must work hard. But however we can, we also need to feed our affection for writing.
If you’ve never seen PJ Harvey in concert, do it. She’s a compelling performer.
For the rest of the Songwriters on Songwriting series, go here.