A link to read when you have time

MS forwarded me this link because it talked about social media and creation, but the entire write up was brain-feeding and thought-provoking, and worth sharing. So this is the only link I’m posting, and I hope you’ll read this and tell me what you think: John Mayer 2011 Clinic – “Manage the Temptation to Publish Yourself”.

I found a number of things to think about in this article, particularly:

The Idea of “Right Time, Right Place”

“Not true! That would be true if you only played one show for your entire life. Then, the mathematical construct would make sense that you have to be in the right time at the right place. Forget about right time right place – it doesn’t exist! You create your place and you create your time through what you’re doing. It’s not about getting your foot in the door or meeting a person and them giving you an opportunity. Doesn’t exist. Does. Not. Exist. Nobody is going to sign you at a record company anymore – they’re not in the business of building an artist from scratch anymore. You got to bring them what you already have. “

Say what you will about the relative past douchenuggetry of John Mayer, some of the things he’s quoted as saying are pretty profound for a guy who wears a neon green banana hammock. (pop-up link – NSFW!)



The Link-O-Lator

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  1. 1
    terripatrick says:

    I found this article fascinating, from his Twitter addiction to his cautions against judging a song before it’s done. With the writing/publishing industry mirroring the shifts as they happened a few years ago (and still in transition!) in the music industry, this John Mayer clinic is focused on the art and craft,  and a separation between creating and promoting. These are good insights!

    Anyone who can look that good in a neon banana hammock has my attention, yet what he had to say was even better.

  2. 2
    Faellie says:

    Followed the link, and then looked at the comments to find a link to something which has a whole lot more to say on similarly empowering lines – the manifesto “How to be Creative” by Hugh MacLeod at http://www.changethis.com.

    Ain’t the internet wonderful?

  3. 3
    AgTigress says:

    There is a great deal of truth in practically all he is reported to have said.  I should think all writers and other creative artists are familiar with the siren call of the displacement activity:  we all know what we are doing when we say, ‘I’ll just tidy the bedroom / phone my friend / make a cup of tea / take a brisk walk, and then I’ll settle down and get on with writing that section’.  There is an old joke (from the 1940s) about a journalist who had already missed two final deadlines for a magazine article.  His third deadline was midnight on a given day, and at 11 pm, the editor telephoned him and demanded, ‘WHERE is that article?’
    The reply;  ‘Almost done — I just have to clean my tennis shoes first, and then I’ll finish it…’.

    But displacement is sneakier and harder to recognise when it is writing, and/or has a direct and valid connection with the current project.  Blogs about writing, and even unduly detailed or peripheral research can themselves be a way of shying away from the real work, as can contributing to discussion forums like this one.

    We all have a thousand ways of avoiding the crunch, and we have to be able to recognise them.  I have never used Twitter, but I can imagine how it might become an obsession, and from the kind of things that many people write on Facebook, it is obvious that their time would be better employed in getting on with some work!  But computers, social media etc. only provide some new pathways to distraction.  I wrote my first books and articles in the 1960s and 1970s:  no computers or internet.  But I still found plenty of ways of fiddling around and doing things other than sitting down at that manual typewriter and writing.

  4. 4

    Meyer talked about that point writers reach where they decide it’s bad. Their work is all wrong and truly terrible. So they decide not to finish it.  Meyer asks – how do you know it was bad? You didn’t finish it.

    That really hit home with me.  I think lots of writers hit that wall with books. I’ve hit it with almost every romance I’ve written.  In today’s digital world the difference between a published author and an unpublished author is really as great – and as small – as finishing the book.

    The inconsistencies, the poor word choice here and there, overwriting – they are all things you can correct in the editing process. But that’s only true if you take the risk and finish the book!

  5. 5
    AgTigress says:

    Yes, the point about finishing a project struck me strongly, too.  There is so much that can be done (indeed, has to be done) after the first draft is finished, that it is premature to make a judgement too soon.  And the discipline of actually finishing is valuable, even if the completed work is a failure.  One learns from the mistakes.

  6. 6
    Sarah Gagnon says:

    The part of the article that stood out the most for me was on self-publishing. I am a writer working on getting an agent for my paranormal romance, and I see many other writers snapping during the process and simply publishing their book on Amazon.

    Mayer talked about how improving your craft has to be the most important. What if some of these writers aren’t successful yet because they’re not good enough? There are a lot of ebooks out there that have never seen a professional edit. So maybe my first book didn’t get an agent because the quality wasn’t high enough.

    As I wait for agents to read through my third book, I too am tempted to self-publish. But I will try to “manage the temptation.”

  7. 7
    Flo says:

    As the internet broadens and shrinks the world it becomes clearer (through media) that much of what “makes” something (book or song) really really is dependent upon taste and the willingness of a person to follow others in their own choice.

    Everytime Meyer’s song “Say What You Need to Say” comes on I feel the urge to jam my fingers into my eye sockets and swirl them around in my brain to escape it.  Does that make it a “BAD” song?  Not really.  It has a great musical theme, incredible hook, and the ability to get into your skull.  It’s simple, melodic, and drives me up a wall.  That’s OK.  It’s not my taste.  I think the idea of “bad” and “good” media creations is changing because of people’s ability to weight in, to ‘vote’ with their money.  Perhaps this is a result of America Idol.  Perhaps it was just time to step away from vetted critics reviews and step into a more personal light.

    Still hate Meyer’s songs.  *shudder*

  8. 8
    Karenmc says:

    Wow. I loathe John Mayer’s public persona, don’t care that much for some of his songs, but what he says here is really insightful. I’ve sent the link on to my nephew, who has a fifteen-year-old son with mucho guitar talent, but was banned from the internet by his parents two years ago for wasting so much time, visiting sites he had no business visiting, etc. Mayer’s points can serve the youngster well (and I want the kid to be a success so he can make tons of money, buy a house in Hawaii, and set me up as its caretaker. Seriously; I’ve secured his promise to do this).

  9. 9

    Like or hate his music, his advice is well said for any artist. Thank you for this link.

  10. 10

    I like Mayer’s music and his banana hammock. His personality is hit or miss for me (hated the “David Duke cock” comment) but this is a GREAT link with timely, thoughtful advice for any artist. Thanks.

  11. 11

    I’m thinking of printing the Myths (and Negative Mindsets to Avoid) section and hanging it up by my computer.  I’ve spent far more time than I should have, for example, worrying about “Right Time, Right Place”—like, what if there’s One True Path that would’ve made my wildest dreams come true, and I didn’t recognize it or wasn’t ready?  I also like the reminder that it’s not really like pro sports, even if my husband and I discuss my writing career with baseball analogies, because there’s no ceiling on how many people can make a living in the arts, and above all “Anybody who’s made it will tell you, you can make it. Anyone who hasn’t made it will tell you, you can’t”

  12. 12
    megalith says:

    My thanks to Mary Anne Graham for translating that bit from the article. It seemed like it might be insightful, but even after reading it two or three times, I couldn’t make heads or tails of what Mayer was saying there. I’m not sure whether that was how the article’s author structured Mayer’s quote or if it was a reflection of the way Mayer himself speaks.

    In any case, I found the Hugh MacLeod manifesto more persuasive than the bits and pieces of Mayer quoted in the Berklee piece, although there was enough in the latter to make me interested in hearing Mayer speak, given the opportunity.

    For me, Mayer is one of those cases where I initially enjoyed his musical persona as expressed in his lyrics. That voice got drowned out for me by his increasingly idiotic public persona, leaving me to wonder which was a more accurate reflection of his character and values. The deciding factor for me was when his recent music began to reflect his off-putting public voice, so it was interesting to see his take on how his music and his social media persona relate. Like a few of the commenters on the Berklee blog, I think Mayer may have been doing a fair amount of self-justification or PR spin in explaining why he shut down his Twitter feed.

    He is certainly a talented musician, and I still think he’s a musician who may have some things to say musically that I will want to hear, but only time will tell.

  13. 13
    Jennifer says:

    I like the dude and his music. Now I will be shamed by the entire Internet for saying that. But I enjoy how the dude vacillates between the shallow thoughts and the deep thoughts. (Okay, so I do that too. Yay narcissism admiration.) Though yeah, I don’t agree with some of the stupider shit he said last year, at least he’s stopping doing that and trying not to be a total idiot the way he was doing. Would be that Chris Brown or other folks could do the same, eh?

    Anyway, I’ve always thought the dude had some hidden depths, so I really enjoyed this clinic talk. And as a Twitter hater, he points out exactly what I dislike about it: seeing so many writers online say, “I used to write blog entries but now all I ever do is tweet.” He actually quit it though, so good for him.

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