I enjoyed reading this interview with Phillip Pullman , the author of the trilogy His Dark Materials.
What do you do about writer’s block?
I don’t believe in it. All writing is difficult. The most you can hope for is
a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block, and
doctors don’t get doctor’s block; why should writers be the only profession that
gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expects sympathy for
Like Leonard Cohen his aim is just to write three pages a day. The hard bit isn’t getting ideas, it’s doing the actual writing. That chimes with me, except it’s recording rather than writing. That’s the extra part songwriters have to endure. Writing the stuff is only the beginning and, in my experience, the smallest part of the struggle. The rest of it is decisions about:
- which songs to record
- how to arrange them
- whether to do it alone or with others
- when it’s finished (or to be abandoned)
- which ones to play live
- how to balance the live effort against writing, recording and promotion.
I don’t expect it to be easy. I don’t even expect it to be appreciated (although I want it to be). I would like it to be quicker.
On Saturday night, however, I had the house to myself and recorded a lot of vocals. I haven’t listened back yet. I’m fairly confident about them.
The experience of revisiting work done before tends to differ:
- with writing, the typical reaction is ‘Oh, that’s good. I didn’t think I could write like that.’
- with recording, ‘What was I thinking of?’ ‘Why didn’t I take more care?’ ‘Why can’t I sing?’