Jillette Johnson Gives Songwriters Advice On How To Get In The Flow

On August 6, singer-songwriter Jillette Johnson released the single “I Shouldn’t Go Anywhere,” the first new material that she has put out in three years. The song marks a transformation for Johnson, revealing a new sense of optimism in both her music and in her personal life (since her last work came out, she has relocated to Nashville and gotten married).

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Johnson began her career in New York City, where she began playing shows when she was only 12 years old. In 2012, she released a well-received debut EP, Whiskey & Frosting, 2012. Her full-length debut album, Water in a Whale, followed in 2015, and her second album, All I Ever See in You Is Me, came out in 2017.

Given Johnson’s increasing success as a songwriter, American Songwriter recently asked her what advice she’d give to aspiring writers who hope to follow in her footsteps. “I think patience and showing up are really important when it comes to songwriting, because the most surprising stuff can come out of our mouths and out of our brains and out of our hands, but it takes really prepping your brain to do that,” she says.

But writers must be patient, Johnson says, because following this method “means allowing a lot of bad stuff to come out on a regular basis, and then continuing to show up to it so that your brain gets warm,” Johnson says, “and then eventually, you’re on a creative flow.

“I think flow is everything,” Johnson continues: “It’s part of what is so manic about my songwriting: when I get on a flow, I’m totally on a different planet. I have a hard time sitting and having a conversation with somebody. I’m generally writing five songs a day for days on end. I’m not taking showers. It’s crazy. But I really think that it’s an important part of the process, and in order to get to that state, I have to allow my brain to get to a kind of creative freedom that is hard to get to. So, it’s showing up when it doesn’t feel ready and then eventually it opens up. It’s still active.”

With “I Shouldn’t Go Anywhere,” Johnson shows the results that can come out of this type of dedicated effort. (And, of course, an optimistic outlook certainly helps, as well!)

Video for “I Shouldn’t Go Anywhere”:

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