Writing and Music – Separated at birth

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Prepare yourselves for a blond moment here…

Until recently, I didn’t really consider writing to be an art – for which I wholly blame my secondary school. Writing was part of English (language and literature) and the arts were comprised of Art, Music and Drama. Considering how long ago it was that I left school, however, I think I may be on somewhat shaky ground with that excuse. But back to the point of the blog post…

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of talking to someone who works in the music business and whose job involves in part, finding new artists and music. As we discussed the music publication process it suddenly hit me how similar music and writing are in that respect. As with writing, a musician looks for an agent or a publisher and, as with writing, the opportunities can be tough to find. The person I was talking to, for example, gets well over 150 e-mails per week from new artists and rarely does he manage to read any of them simply because there isn’t the time in his day. For him to pick out an e-mail and take notice, it has to be what he is looking for and regardless of how good the other submissions are, if they are not what he is seeking at the time, then they don’t get viewed.

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The same could undoubtedly be said of editors, publishers and agents in the writing world which is why it is so important that any submissions we make to agents and publishers, stand out. We want our e-mail, our submission, to be the one that they read and if it’s not, our work may sadly never see the light of day.

Luck, we both agreed during our conversation, plays a huge part in both the music and writing industry. Of course as writers we need to produce a great novel/short story/article etc.. but we also need to be lucky. We need to be in the right place at the right time and unfortunately there is no formula that can help us to achieve that.

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These are not the only similarities between writing and music. Whilst the life of a writer (and arguably a musician) can be lonely, both arts involve collaboration with others in order to achieve the end product. A musician may need to use, for example, writers, other musicians, producers and recording studios whilst a writer needs an editor, a cover designer, beta readers and colleagues willing to assist with promotion, to name a few. So, although, when we put pen to paper to create our story/article we work on our own, our finished product can never be achieved without collaboration with others.

It was truly enlightening to speak to someone at the other end of the process to me – albeit music rather than literature – and to understand that both industries are similar and both industries are incredibly tough. On the upside, I now understand that writing is just as much of an art as Art, Music and Drama – something which may be obvious to everyone else out there but was only a lightbulb moment for me a few short weeks ago.

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