Like most geeky kids growing up, I played in a lot of punk bands.
Plucking away at my bass guitar with good friends and blasting out an almighty racket was a great way to express my creativity.
As we got a bit older and discovered jazz and more complicated composition than the three-chord punk of bands like Green Day (up to and including Insomniac only), our writing process matured too.
But no matter how structured you make a song—layering verses, bridges and strange off-kilter choruses together—there remains a way of writing a song I’m sure is pretty universal.
At some point, when you’re not quite sure where you’re going, the best thing to do is take it from the top.
You’ve heard this phrase before.
Usually, it’s exclaimed by some funky Motown musician, but it’s no doubt uttered often in practice spaces around the world.
It’s a call to play what you’ve got so far and see where it goes.
The aim is to let the music flow organically.
Bit of a waffy word, I know.
But when we talk about how something flows organically—we’re really talking about its rhythm.
A piece of writing, just like a song, has a natural rhythm, a groove you fall into that often dictates its progress.
When you’re struggling to find where to finish, it helps to focus on this musical rhythm.
You should, as they say, take it from the top.
Go back to the very start and read what you’ve written aloud.
During this read through, don’t worry too much about spotting minor errors and phrases that don’t quite sit right.
Maybe mark them to revisit later.
Right now, you’re more concerned with the flow.
As you move through this reading you’ll eventually lock into the groove of the piece and as you near the end, or the place where you’re a little stuck, the rhythm will speak to you.
I know that sounds a little magical, like the ghost of Miles Davies is going to jump out from the page and start blowing bebop at you. But seriously, if you listen closely, the momentum will guide you to where the piece needs to go.
It might be you hit a major stumbling block further back in your writing than you anticipated and the reason you’re finding it so difficult to finish is because you’ve written yourself down the wrong alley.
If this is the case, you’ll often find there’s some movement to be made, switching around lines, paragraphs or even whole sections.
Do what you need to do, and you’ll soon find yourself powering on until the end.
P.S. To those lovely readers who have emailed me about the podcast…don’t worry.
There’s been a bit of a gap since the last episode, but I will be back soon with the final three episodes of series four.
Between client work and writing the novel I’m working on, things have been insanely busy. I’ll do a proper update of all the things going on in All Good Copy world soon.
Until then, continue to be wonderful.
I know you will be.