I'm a very lucky man. I get to do the thing I want most in life, write songs and sing them for people, and ride bikes. I love my family. I love my home. I get to work with people I've admired my whole life. It's a pretty good life.
It's really a lot easier to write about things that are problematic. Who wants to hear how happy you are?
I'm not the kind of writer that can wake up and say, "Okay, I'm gonna write a song today," and have that song be the kind I would want to record. The songs of mine that I end up liking are songs that come from real experience. They're like chapter titles in my life.
I don't ever try to anticipate my audience. I just write the songs I want to write, and hope people like 'em.
I want to do a stripped-down album. That style is actually where my heart is - storytelling and just letting the voice and the lyrics talk for themselves. I still want to write the perfect song and sing it in the most honest, undressed way. But I feel like I have to gather more experiences and more layers in my voice. I have to live more to be able to tell this tale. So I'm saving my folk record. I have a feeling nobody will understand it.
My idea of making time for myself is writing songs. I never stop beating myself up about trying to be productive, so I don't really like to do a lot of things other than write in my journal and write songs.
The style developed over decades, really, but I started out writing pretty traditional stories, then became impatient. It was a writer named Russell Edson who showed me that one could write in any way at all.
To observe the world carefully, to write a lot and often, on a schedule if necessary, to use the dictionary a lot, to look up word origins, to analyze closely the work of writers you admire, to read not only contemporaries but writers of the past, to learn at least one foreign language, to live an interesting life outside of writing.
I don't believe a good poet is very often deliberately obscure. A poet writes in a way necessary to him or her; the reader may then find the poem difficult.
Part of my mind is working on how to end the thing while I'm going on. You need at least two brains to write.
I don't pare down much. I write the beginning of a story in a notebook and it comes out very close to what it will be in the end. There is not much deliberateness about it.
See, I'm not the type of writer that has 400 songs in a suitcase someplace on the shelf. I'm sort of a rise-to-the-occasion-type of writer, so when I know I'm going to record, I get in the mood to write.
So this is always the key: you have to write the book you love, the book that's alive in your heart. That's the one you have to write.
I wanted to write about the third world and had the opportunity to go live in the trenches, so to speak.
What really grabs me is when a reader writes to express her personal story and how a book helped her situation, or her acceptance of a situation she can't change. I read some sad cases in my snail and electronic mail. I respond to all I can, affirming that they are the true heroes of life because they are fighting through adversity and surviving.
I look at people like Picasso and Da Vinci and Escher and Miles Davis, and they'll write or paint that one definitive masterpiece of maybe 50 that they have that's really trying to go outside the box, trying to do something that's tough. And then when you accomplish it, you look back and go, 'Yeeaaaah - masterpiece.'
When I write, it's intimate. I write in the car, and I don't even hear, like, ambulances driving past me because I'm in my car, listening to the music, writing. I record in an attic with no booth. It's not like I'm in the dark with candles, but it's like a house, a home, and I record like that. I think that plays into the music.
There are still songs that I'm writing. I like to write. I like to take a long time to do my songs, not even the actual writing process, but conceptualizing, getting into the songs. That's why I stopped doing mixtapes.
To me, poetry is a rational act. I never write a poem if I'm not sure what I am going to say or what I want to communicate.
I always laugh the hardest at the stuff you see in day-to-day life. Its great when somebody can tell a joke that really makes you laugh hard, but to see some kind of personal interaction that no one could write is so good. Those are always the things that make me laugh.
It's just like I get this identity crisis: my body doesn't want to write, my mind doesn't want to write. Nothing about me wants to write, but I force myself to sit there and try. Nothing happens.
When you write songs, you try to tap into something that isn't straightforward in your head. Whatever you're feeling most strongly about usually comes out in your writing.
It's just like an idea, like a chorus, and then we just jam on it - it happens in loads of different ways. The best songs I find always come from the subconscious, like when you don't think. Not to be pretentious about it, but usually songs just blurt out rather than thinking about it. I never write lyrics and then do a song, I find that really hard - that's like a real skill.
Under the Assads, Kurds were forbidden from learning their own language at school, or even from speaking it in the military. The result is a generation of Syrian Kurds, many now in late middle age, who cant write their own language.
Directing is something I've sort of always felt like I'd like to do at one point and I thought the best way to start it is to write something myself or with someone and I'd go from there.
For the Tintin books were my emotional universe. To read them felt quite simply like being loved: in advance and by an entire world of pure possibility, my future. But to write to the author was to reach out for the lover. Even today, the power of reading one remains visceral: each book acts as a form of transportation, not just to the emotional landscape of this first literary love affair but to very specific memories.
I will always really work hard to write as much as I can, but I also love sitting back and waiting on those big Nashville songwriters to send me some great songs, too.
My thing is you just have to try to feel young and stay young. Obviously you get a little older, but I still want my music to be young. I don't want to sound like an old dad onstage, so you just have to write music that sounds young.
When you look into the eyes of your people out there that came to see you, that's when it's like, 'Yep, this is what it's all about.' This is why we don't sleep, and this is why we write songs and try to be the best. This moment right here onstage.
I like both music and acting, and they both have a lot in common - timing, immediacy, stuff like that. But acting is more regimented. You wait around for hours, you don't get to write the script, you get hired. Music represents me better. I'm not acting; I'm just expressing myself.
The creative act is like writing a letter. A letter is a project; you don't sit down to write a letter unless you know what you want to say and to whom you want to say it.
I've always been prepared to write about the hard things. Only for healing, teaching, and enlightening purposes not to hurt or disparage anyone.
One cannot choose what he writes - one can only choose to face it.
Schiller writes in a letter [to Goethe, 17 December 1795] of a 'poetic mood'. I think I know what he means, I think I am familiar with it myself. It is the mood of receptivity to nature and one in which one's thoughts seem as vivid as nature itself.
Bring forth what is true; Write it so it it's clear. Defend it to your last breath.
I usually write songs when I'm in a car by myself and it's usually dangerous because I'm writin' and drivin' at the same time.
Write backwards. Start from the feeling you want the audience to have at the end and then ask "How might that happen?" continually, until you have a beginning.
One mistake with beginners in writing is, that they think it important to spin out something long. It is a great deal better not to write more than a page or two, unless you have something to say, and can write it correctly.
A drop of water, if it could write out its own history, would explain the universe to us.
I love my work. What's more fun than playing with imagination? I also believe storytelling is the most powerful way people communicate with one another, interpret our lives, share our dreams, even form our futures. So when I sit down to write every day, I keep the fun, and also what I consider a large cultural project that connects people, at the center of what I'm doing.