I’ve been writing some friends-only posts recently, but here is one link that shouldn’t have been protected: you NEED to check out this ridiculously awesome clip of the 2003 World Air Guitar Champion. Words cannot describe his awesomeness. I’ve watched that clip like five times today and have yet to grow tired of it.
Anyway, so my question today is about creating art and stems from writing music. If you’re writing a song, unless the entire thing just appeared in your head (which for me is a rare occurrence), you’re really faced with a sequence of choices: which way the melody will turn, what chord will come next, how to structure this section of the song, etc. (I don’t know how real composers write music, but this is what I do.)
The problem is that there are so many choices that every time you make a decision, you are cutting off a gigantic chunk of potentially great-sounding music from your song. And unless you plan on writing many songs, each with the same beginning and differing endings, once you’ve made a choice, you can’t go back: this song will represent, in some sense, your best attempt at plowing through this set of choices given some initial conditions.
That is to say, the song you’re writing is the only song you’ll write that sounds like it. So you better make sure that your decisions are really good, or else you might narrowly miss a great song and end up with something only mediocre.
The problem is that I am not so great at making decisions, and the more complicated and involved a song is, the more decisions I have to make, and the more hesitant I become… which means that my favorite songs are ones that I’ll probably never finish (and you’ll never hear).
Instead, if I start out writing a song with the understanding that it’s going to be blah, and I don’t care how it turns out, I’m able to finish it pretty quickly. Sadly, these are the songs that I end up recording. It’s a bit frustrating.
So my question is this. I don’t have much experience with other forms of art. Is the creation of art (painting, etc.) or prose or poetry subject to similar choices (and thus similar frustration)? Or does an artist, say, really know the whole picture before he touches his brush to the canvas? I imagine that writing is similar to composing, since it is similarly linear…