When talking about his songwriting process, Nils Lofgren, guitarist for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, espouses a view shared by successful long-form writers. To many of them, writer's block is merely a failure of courage: it happens when writers expect perfection whenever they put pen to paper. They're afraid to write badly. But any good writer will tell you that you cannot be afraid to write badly, because writing badly makes you better. Some writing is better than no writing, and with work you can turn bad writing into better writing. If you wait for perfection, you won't get much accomplished.
Lofgren follows this precept in his own process. He has two modes as a songwriter: amateur mode and professional mode. The amateur mode comes first; it's when he writes ten or so what he calls "stupid, corny love songs" to prepare for the real songwriting. Because he can't get much writing done on the marathon Springsteen tours, this amateur mode helps him clear the cobwebs and shake off the rust. After amateur mode, he enters professional mode to write in earnest for a new album, and by this time his skills are razor sharp and kink-free.Read More