Firing Your Ogre: A Beginners Guide

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Hello, I’m Cari Ray, a singer songwriter living in brown county Indiana and you’ve tuned in to the pilot segment of “For a Song.” A series designed to offer listeners this songwriters take on the art and craft of songwriting.

As my good friends and fellow musicians will tell you, I am fascinated by the creative process and love to talk about it.

So let’s start at the beginning. The process of songwriting begins long before there is a lyric, tune, or even seed of an idea in your pretty little head. The first step is finding what inspires you…your muse. And if your new to the pursuit, yours is likely being heldĀ  in a dark, windowless little room in the tower of your mind…guarded by an evil ogre named self-judgement…and she needs your creative self to rescue her. This ogre has a quiver full of poisoned arrows he’s been shooting at you for years…and he has minions. Like that girl or boy you liked in sixth grade who told you that your poem was stupid, and the 3rd grade teacher who said to pay attention to the math lesson instead of making those silly drawings on your notebook…and let’s not forget the well-meaning family member who had that talk with you about responsibility and the importance of getting a REAL job. Think about it…with a little focus, you can remember the moment you decided it was uncool to be an artist…of any kind. So the hard truth comes when you realize that it was YOU who hired the ogre in the first place…to keep your muse locked away so she wouldn’t get you into trouble.

Don’t believe me? Ask the average 4-year old if they are an artist, dancer, or singer. Most will say yes to all of the above. Now ask the average teenager…at some point in time, the idea that performing, verbal and visual creativity is a gift that we all possess and express in measure is replaced by a sort of creative class system. A hierarchy of creative haves and have-nots.

Well, I’m here to tell you that’s rubbish. One of the first and most valuable steps you can take to free your muse is to storm the tower and take out that ogre. Now I would love to say that I did so all at once, just ripped the bandaid off. But it wasn’t that easy, see, I had been stifled by self-judgement most of my life, and there was a part of me that was still pulled by the reason I hired him in the first place…to keep me safe…from myself. So I started by sneaking time with my muse when he wasn’t looking, but like a new love affair, a little is never enough and I became clear that he just had to go. I’d love to tell you that I haven’t seen him since, but he still comes around from time to time looking for work and I have to remind him that his services are no longer needed.

Whatever your process, find ways to put self-judgement on vacation so that your creative self can have a play day with your muse. Like many things in life, it’s simple, but not easy…and totally worth it. But be well advised, doing so can be the gateway drug to a fully expressed creative self…and once you cross that line, no pill, of any color will take you back to before you knew you were an amazing, creative being.