Songwriters on Songwriting: PJ Harvey

November 6th, 2012 by

I wrote my first song when I was 14 years old. Over the years, I’ve composed hundreds of songs. It was that interest – music – that led me to take a year off from pursuing a doctorate and led me down the circuitous path that has been the rest of my life.

I don’t write songs nowadays, more focused on screenplays and writing about writing. But I can’t help but think at least some of who I am as a writer derives from all that time studying and composing songs.

Each day this week at this time, I will post insight from a songwriter about their craft in the hope their words may inspire you as a writer.

Today: PJ Harvey.

“If you want to be good at anything, you have to work hard at it. It doesn’t just fall from the sky. I work every day at trying to improve my writing, and I really enjoy it. Nothing fascinates me more than putting words together, and seeing how a collection of words can produce quite a profound effect.”

Okay, we’ve all seen various remonstrations that we have to work hard — damn hard! — to become a good writer.

Helpful to hear from time to time, but we know this: If you want to be good at anything, you have to work hard at it.

It’s the other observation by Harvey that catches my eye:

“Nothing fascinates me more than putting words together, and seeing how a collection of words can produce quite a profound effect.”

It speaks to an affection for language.

It speaks to an affection for writing process.

It speaks to an affection for stories themselves, how they can have a “profound effect” on people.

Yes, we must work hard. But however we can, we also need to feed our affection for writing.

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