What I Learned about Writing from Florence Welch
I had originally planned to do a generic “What My Week Was Like” list-type post for this week. I shipped my manuscript off to a beta reader (aka my genius brother) for some fresh-eyed help, and rather than jumping over to RED SKY and getting all mixed up, I decided to take the week off from writing. So I did lots of stuff around the house and was pretty scarce ’round the blogosphere. And it was awesome! I’m excited to get my novel back from my brother and attack those last 20k words. Sometimes a break really is all you need.
HOWEVER, Florence and the Machine performed two shows here in Denver this week–Wednesday and Thursday nights. I was originally going to be gone for both shows, but those plans fell through and on Wednesday night I realized, “I can see FloMA tomorrow night!” So I scoured Craig’s List, scored some tickets yesterday morning, and last night basked in the glory of Florence Welch’s voice.
Rather than go off about how amazing she is to see live (and she is … utterly and completely. If you have the opportunity, do yourself a favor and go!), I thought I’d share some things I learned from her that apply to writing. Yes! Even while watching a concert, during a writing hiatus, I was thinking about writing. ^_^
1. Throw Your Whole Body Into It–Florence is truly an artist and performer. She danced, and threw her arms in the air, and jumped off the stage and ran among the audience. In other words, for her, performing is a full-body, all-or-nothing experience. Writing should be like that. You shouldn’t ever withhold any part of yourself back from your manuscript. When I get really into writing (the way I should always be), my facial expressions start to mimic the emotions of the scene. I smile, laugh, sigh. My husband likes to tease me and say, in a Soup Nazi voice, “No smiling for you!” One time, after writing an attack scene, I literally had to close the word document and take steps to calm myself. You can tell when an author has put this kind of effort into their work.
2. Don’t Be Afraid–Florence has no fear on stage. She’s not worried about fitting any norm for a musician. She’s not worried as being perceived any way. She’s absolutely, unapologetically herself on stage. She’s artsy and quirky and expressive, but the result is she’s incredibly amazing. So whoever you are–be that person in your writing. If you’re funny, be funny. If you’re moody, be moody. Own it! Be confident! Everyone’s got their personal flavor–what’s yours?
3. EMOTIONS–One reason I absolutely adore Florence and the Machine’s music is the vast depth and amount of emotion in each and every song. I can imagine that every aspect of the process is exhausting for her–writing the lyrics, the music, recording, and performing. I love live music because the emotion is always much stronger, but with FloMa’s is tangible. Why? Because there’s already so much emotion in the recorded versions. With that kind of foundation, you can imagine what the live version is like.
4. Believe In Your Work–It’s clear that Florence believes in her music. In the words and the notes, their meaning, their existence. You should feel the same way about your stories and characters. And if you don’t find yourself feeling that way … why not? Perhaps you need to connect more deeply with the work, and perhaps it’s not a project worth pursuing.
So there you have it. Four lessons on writing I learned from Florence Welch. Can you imagine what it would be like to open your mouth and have her voice come out? Also, her back-up singers? Good for them, because I’d be way too intimidated to sing with her.