A lyrist on the Standard of Ur, c. 2500 BC.

Object writing as a tool to generate lyric ideas

“…inspiration is way more likely to come around when you already have your tools out. A pen on paper, a brush on canvas, a guitar in your hand.” Jeff Tweedy

Object writing is a technique outlined in Pat Pattison book, ‘How to write better lyrics’. If you gravitate towards a technical approach to writing lyrics, it’s a book for you.

How object writing works:

choose an object, an event or emotion, and

examine it from the perspective of all your senses: i.e. sound, taste, smell, sight, kinaesthetic (the sense that detects things like your body position, movement of you muscles, body weight) and spacial awareness.

Object writing is about shifting your mindset – switching on ‘receive’ mode. The idea is that it tells you that the surface is a barrier you can break through to a world of possibilities.

An example: my own object writing exercise

Right now I’m writing this while sitting in a cafe.

What I see:

Students from the local University working at laptops wearing the clothes bought in a vintage store, wobbly formica tables, plywood backed chairs with steel legs, walls painted a dirty yellow pockmarked with holes from long gone framed prints. Staff serving customers behind the counter.

What I hear:

The sound of many people speaking at once mixed with the low ’drone’ of music, students speaking in a variety of different accents, the sound of a bus passing, someone walking past my chair, the shoosh of the coffee machine, the screech of metal chair legs against the wooden floor…

What I taste:

I can’t tase anything. My nostrils are dry, my mouth is rough and my sinuses are inflamed. But I could I guess – use my imagination: what would these old sofas taste like if you licked them? What would the inlaid tiles of that table taste like? Never mind the taste of the diseases would I would get if I licked this floor?

Kinaesthetic & spacial awareness:

I have an ache in my heel, the inside of my mouth is rough, my keyboard feels slippery under my fingertips, I feel the weight of my body sinking in to this cafe sofa. My shoulders are tense and I feel mental unease as I remember that I have a lot of work to get through today.

Your own object writing exercises

When doing these exercise don’t sensor yourself, don’t edit, don’t worry about writing sentences, Use all seven senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, organic, and kinaesthetic. Write in a stream of consciousness way – no need to write sentences – you are just capturing perspectives, insights and ideas.

Object writing exercise 1

Choose an event or emotion from your past and carry out the object writing exercise as explained in this document. Use all seven senses to explore your topic. Write down your results. Write for 10 minutes and stop (even if you are on a roll).

Object writing exercise 2

Choose an object in your line of sight and carry out the object writing exercise as explained in this document Does it spur memories, are there associations you can make. Write for ten minutes and stop (even if you are on a roll).

Your morning creativity exercise

Pat Pattison recommends 10 minutes of object writing every single morning – to wake up your creative juices for the rest of the day. Object writing is designed to put you ‘on alert for the creative possibility of the world around you’.

More info at:

Pat Pattison Professor, Author, & Songwriter: https://www.patpattison.com Idiots Guide to Object Writing: https://tinyurl.com/yxf84dt4

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