Monday, June 1, 2015

What the Music Festival Taught Me About Writing

I spent the past week sitting at our local music festival listening to four of my granddaughters participate. Even though I’ve attended many such festivals and participated in a few, I now realize that some of the lessons learned can also apply to writing:

1. Practice makes perfect, or nearly so.
            The adjudicator suggested that students need regular practice. No surprise there. In her words, “You only need to practice on the days you eat.”
            Sigh. If I “only” wrote on the days I ate, I’d get a lot more writing done. Although we all must create a schedule that suits us, the truth is, the more we write, the better we become.        

2. A steady and consistent rhythm comes from the heartbeat of the soul.
            Some of the participants in the music festival played all the right notes, but theirs was a “learned” performance. Others made a mistake or two, but the music had a steady rhythm, because it came from the soul.
            Some writers have an innate gift for story and composition, while others of us struggle to create a solid piece of writing. Either way, the story communicates best when it comes from the heart.

3. Our attitude colors our performance.
            One of my granddaughters has an especially dramatic bent. Her mother warned her that even if the performance didn’t go as well as she hoped, she was not allowed to bang her head against the piano, Muppet style.
            I chuckled at that, but how often do we belittle ourselves and our writing when we feel we’ve come up short? We need to have an attitude of professionalism and acceptance of failures as well as successes. Call it literary poise.

4. Life must be consistent on and off stage.
            One of the performers suffered a memory lapse during her piano piece (she was not the only one, but her reaction was unique). Instead of simply asking for her music book, she ran her hands through her hair, jumped up from the bench, jogged over to pick up her music, jogged back and plunked down on the bench with a huge sigh to try again. The adjudicator suggested that performance did not only include the actual playing time, but the total spotlight time.
            As writers who are Christian, we are “on display,” not only when people read our work, but also when we go to the grocery store, or the bank, or a sports event. Consistency and integrity are key.

5. You are you, unique in style and voice.
            Several times during the music festival, two children played the same piece, but it didn’t ever sound the same. Each person (or teacher) interpreted the music in a unique manner. Neither was right or wrong, just individual.
            Writing is an individualistic vocation if anything is. We interpret our world and report on it or show it through our characters. However we choose to do this, we must be true to ourselves.

Blessings as you keep living and writing consistently.


  1. Great piece, Janice. I loved reading these lessons and could relate very well to them. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Elaine. I had lots of time to sit and think this out!

  2. Lovely post, Janice :) I love your analogy with music and writing is definitely an art that requires practice and tuition.

    1. Thanks, Narelle. The analogy certainly made me realize I had to apply myself more.

  3. Thanks, Janice--your post sure brought back memories for me of many times when I played or sang in eisteddfods when growing up. And yes, all those lessons you mention certainly translate to our writing.