On Process

It’s 7:30 am and I have already been up reading for the last couple hours. My mother gave me a great Leonard Cohen biography called I’m Your Man for Christmas and I’m nearly finished it. I was only a minor Cohen fan and this bio felt like a really great gateway to his art and to him as a person.

I’m in a good routine these days. I try to get up at a decent hour and leave mornings for writing and reading. I find that writing songs early in the day makes for more positive subject matter as the world tends to wear on a person as the hours pass. 

I do find that different cities evoke different responses from me. Calgary is a business city; it’s a labour camp and I get shit done when I’m here. Most of my friends live in Calgary so there are plenty of distractions and collaborations, for better or worse.


My parents place in Taber feels like a zen monastary. I get up very early when I’m there, write in the mornings, usually do things around the farm and then practice in the evenings and read before bed. There is very little screen time for me in Taber or social interactions (which I’m finding kills creativity for me).


I’m headed back to Nashville next week on a writing trip. I find there is no place like Nashville for that. There is a song-a-day code that seems to exist amongst songwriters. I know very few people so there are little distractions and it is a place to isolate myself and get lost in my craft. 


The last time I went down South I took the greyhound. It was a nearly fifty hour trip one way and it really gave me time to be alone with myself. I’m driving this time. Alone as usual. I like it that way as it really allows me some time to reflect before I arrive to write, I think that’s important. 


I usually stimulate myself with endless podcasts and audio books and music. Leonard Cohen’s time in the Californian buddhist monastary is inspiring me to make an attempt at some driving meditation on the way down to Nashville. Rather than flood my brain with information, I may just let it be still for awhile. 


I heard an interview with Royal Wood regarding writing his most recent album and he mentioned how he disconnected from the TV, phones, computers etc. He said he found that by being still he found songs that had been within him for a long time that could finally come out. 


One of my favourite writers, Jonathan Franzen, says that you cannot be a great writer with an internet connection on your computer.


Call me a hippy, but I think creativity needs space and room to breath. I don’t think it pours through the cracks, I think it seeps through the emptiness. This has been the first year of my life I’ve had the luxury of experimenting with writing this way. I’ve usually had to wake up in the mornings and go to a job or to school. This really only allowed me a couple hours a day, each evening to try to focus on art. I feel really fortunate to have the luxury to experiment.


Aside from writing, I’m excited to get back to Nashville for the Southern soul-food, the Sunday gospel music at Robert’s Western World and the ongoing events at the Country Music Hall of Fame. I feel like I have a good thing going down there and I’m looking forward to a few weeks to retreat.