Mixing Up My Art

Many artists don’t confine themselves to a single medium. You may know that besides writing nine non-fiction books and working on my second, third, fourth, and fifth mysteries all at once (whew!) I’m also a songwriter.

Writing songs with lyrics that don’t rhyme, or lyrics that don’t make any sense; writing songs with short lines, long lines; story songs, message songs, love songs, pain songs — I’m far more confident playing with words in my fiction than I was before I invested 10 years learning the craft of songwriting.


I used to wholeheartedly participate in February Album Writing Month. The past few years it has been hard to devote an entire month to songwriting. Though that may change in the future, for the past couple years a buddy and I came up with an alternative.

Instead of writing 14 songs in one month, the third week of every third month we write three songs — we call it 3-3-3. We support each other, swap comments, and when I can make it to Phoenix, we write and record together in his huge living room.

You can listen to some of the stuff I’ve done the past couple years at the 333 website.

What’s your other art? How does it inform your writing?

4 thoughts on “Mixing Up My Art

  1. Painting while listening to loud rock and roll. It doesn’t have to be a landscape painting; it can be a bathroom wall. Physically I get connected to what my hands are doing and the brush strokes. Mentally I’m thinking about other things, probably writing, while rocking to the music. I don’t recommend dancing while up on a ladder, but I have done it. I’m sure it’s a multitasking nightmare for some, but for me it’s like attaching jumper cables to my creative center. I have used this tactic a few times when I’m stuck on a part of a story. Jolts me right out of the rut every time.

  2. I just built a full-wall book case for our living room and my hands were desperate to continue. I have all the wood for a second smaller shelf, and I’m planning other projects.

    When I’m working with my hands I listen to all my Pandora stations on shuffle. Led Zeppelin, Tom Waits, The Bonzo Dog DooDah Band, Vivaldi, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Dwight Yoakam, Kate Rusby, all mashed together keeping my conscious distracted, overloading my corpus callosum so my unconscious can refresh itself.

  3. My other art? I draw, I paint, I’m working on a comic book… I painted the image I will use for the cover of my first book. Sometimes I play a bit of music, too… For me, it’s all related!

    I’m not just a writer, I’m an artist.

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