Anne Lamott’s Inadvertent Songwriting Advice

Let me dump a quote on you and let’s hope it benefits your writing. Anne Lamott says I should tell you a story, but I’m going to ignore her for this post.

513aO7zHGkL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

In Operating Instructions, Lamott talks about her father, who was a writer.

I think he believed that our job, that of a writer, is not to get up and say, “Tomorrow, in battle, most of you will die…” Instead, a writer must entertain the troops the night before. I think he believed that the best way to entertain the troops is to tell stories, and the ones that they seem to like the best are the ones about themselves. (page 47)

There you go.

Takeaway point: songwriting should involve stories. So go tell a story and don’t just spew information like I’ve done here.

Book Review: Musicophilia

The book begins by telling the story of a man who discovered his love of music after lightning struck him.

Next thing you know, you’re sucked into the outlandish true stories of people thriving and people enduring torment from their experiences with music.

These people were the patients and acquaintances of the late Oliver Sacks, who was a physician, a Professor of Clinical Neurology and Psychiatry at Columbia University, and an author of many other books about the brain.

Musicophilia - Oliver Sacks

In Musicophiliahe talks about synesthesia. Many types of synesthesia exist, but Sacks focused on one man named Michael Torke who saw colors with tones.

As a boy, Torke once said to his music teacher, “I love the blue piece.” This section made me jealous of synesthetes.

Sacks also wrote about how a man named Clive forgets nearly everything but remembers music and melody without hesitation. He remembers two things in life: his wife, Deborah, and music.

Besides that, his memory was a complete mess.

Sacks writes in a layman-friendly style with a bit of doctor lingo here and there. Both the common man (like myself) and the educated, Harvard-graduate, award-winning physician can be proud to display this on his or her bookshelf.

Sacks divided his stories into four parts:

  1. Haunted by Music (stories of people hearing music in their heads)
  2. A Range of Musicality (stories of synesthesia and blindness)
  3. Memory, Movement, and Music (amnesia, music therapy, Tourette’s, and Parkinson’s)
  4. Emotion, Identity, and Music (depression and dementia)

If you’ve never heard about things like synesthesia, musical hallucinations, or music’s effect on coping, this is the first book you should read.

RELATED: Sad music warms the musician’s heart

It’s somewhat of a lengthy book, weighing in at about 350 pages, but you may not be able to put it down.

Spark Inspiration With The “Caffeinated Ideas Journal”

Coffee drinkers get things done. Tea drinkers change lives. Caffeinated people change the world. 

tumblr_nuivazNH0Q1t3i99fo1_1280

Caffeinated Ideas Journal helps caffienateurs generate new ideas by offering the perfect drink to wake up the brain.

It pairs coffee­making instructions with inspiring words from author Lisa McGuinness to help you brainstorm your next invention, story, or what-have-you.

It includes blank pages so you can write, draw, or doodle, just as long as you get your ideas out and down on paper.

If you want to be inspired by French Press Coffee, you’ll see simple steps on how to make it accompanied by a whimsical illustration by New York artist Danielle Kroll.

The book covers espressos and cappuccinos, lattes and Americanos, black tea and chai tea. Ending the book is a “Who’s Who of the Caffeinated Inspired Page,” which lists people like Gary Larson, Bach, and Ralph Waldo Emerson as influencers.

This book encourages you to pick your caffeinated serum and get those idea cogs churning.


Originally published on Wink Books

Did We All Used To Have Synesthesia?

Imagine seeing colors fly out of someone’s mouth as they sing or speak. Imagine ribbons and double-helixes of silver and gold shoot from the end of a trumpet.

This is what color-hearing synesthesia is like, and you might have experienced this as a baby, according to the theory of two gentlemen.

apple---ipod--itunes-_-coldplay_new_type_of_sil.5.21.08

Oliver Sacks writes in Musicophilia about Simon Baron-Cohen’s and John Harrison’s work that led them to write,

“We might all be colored-hearing synesthetes until we lose connections between these two areas [color and hearing areas of the brain] somewhere about three months of age.”

Musicophilia, page 181

Basically, Sacks goes on to write, the two senses mesh together, colors appearing with tones. But as we develop, the two separate, no longer creating a synesthetic experience, says their theory.

For those of you who don’t remember anything from infant age (like…all of us), you can watch the video below given to me by a young man with color-tone synesthesia.

He said this is the closest thing he’s found that illustrates what a synesthete sees, but he said he sees the colors more like ribbons and less like clouds.

Update, 8/26/15: click here to read about more evidence that we all grow out of our synesthesia as we develop, according to Discover Magazine.