Measure For Measure: Using The “Fuzzy-To-Focused” Songwriting Method

“Sketch with broad strokes first; fill in details later.”

While listening to Margo Price’s “Hurtin’ (On The Bottle)” and contemplating a few tequila sunrises of my own, it suddenly occurred to me that songs of loss and loneliness — worlds of hurt, in short — are among my favorites (yours, too, probably). But why? Catharsis, perhaps? A purging of pain via empathy for others? Why not let the critics and scientists sort that one out while we pose a humbler but more interesting question, namely, “How do you write a song about a broken heart?” With the help of a secret weapon in the war against the blank page, I’m confident a solution can be found within. The “secret weapon” in question is a tried and true cure for the creative blues I call the “fuzzy-to-focused method.” In essence it means, “Sketch with broad strokes first; fill in details later.” I learned “fuzzy-to-focused” in art school and have been applying it everywhere ever since. Take this column: Though it’s No. 34, my reaction to the call of duty was an all too familiar sensation known to many a songwriter: panic. “Fuzzy-to-focused” saved the day, so let’s try it out. Step 1: Research Step one is easy: Fuhgeddaboudit! Yeah, just…

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