am 30. Juli 2012
I ordered this book as I trusted Pat Pattison that it would be another very good and helpful book, after having read (and thoroughly studied) both "Writing Better Lyrics" and "Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure", two (IMO) fantastic books on lyric writing, in fact, probably the best you can currently get, out there. (..and I have read all Sheila Davis's books. ..which are also very recommendable, of course, but I prefer these.)
Well, I wasn't disappointed in my expectations !
The book is fairly new, released in September 2011, so it's well up-to-date.
Admittedly, many of the ideas and suggestions introduced in the book have previously appeared in "Writing Better Lyrics" (which, I believe, was published in 1995), the main one being the 'ritual' of daily "object writing" - setting a timer for 1 and 1/2, 5, or 10 minutes, and in that time writing about a chosen object, person, time, or place, the objective being to draw on subconscious recollections of 'sense-memories'; that is, writing from one's seven (yes, seven) senses.
But here the writing concepts and suggestions are treated way more in-depth than in "Writing Better Lyrics", and numerous writing examples from the author's students and collegues demonstrate the suggestions 'in action', whereupon the author then comments.
The general concept of the book is that the author invites the reader to follow along on "14 day writing challenges": writing for a limited time each day along guidelines given by the author, and thus "exercising one's writing muscles", bit by bit. The book is devided into four such challenges, each introducing one new major writing-concept, or angle,..'technique', from the perspective of which the reader is then encouraged to practice their own writing, in order to strengthen it. There is an entry for each day of the fourteen then, and each day a little more detail is revealed about the major writing concept being dealt with during the challenge. And each day, several writing-examples of various writers demonstrate what is meant by the concept, and how it applies in actual writing.
Anyway, I have only just finished the first of the challenges, so I can't yet speak for how the entire book will have worked for me. But I have seriously committed to doing the writing each day for the first challenge, and already I feel that firstly, it has strengthened my writing tremendously, mainly by making it way more vivid, and secondly I feel like the lyricist in me is constantly 'switched on' and ideas are constantly flowing (..especially while showering or doing the dishes - Eureka !! ;) ) - which is, of course, just wonderful for someone who really wants to write good songs. (And, incidentally, the author soberly yet confidently promises nothing less and nothing more than just that ! ..well, I can attest it's working for me !)
Lastly, following through with such a course in writing will naturally sharpen one's own awareness of any writing and use of words one encounters, be it in novels, advertising, magazine articles, or other people's songs. Which in turn makes you appreciate and understand the great works out there even more, and learn from them, as well as make you aware that there is also plenty of very mediocre work being released all the time (and becoming successful), so it's ok to start small, knowing you will one day 'do better', because you're now working on aquiring the right tools and skills to do so.
I have previously struggled tremendously with writing lyrics, my natural strength lying in the musical side of songwriting. In part, this is perhaps also due to the fact that I am not a native speaker of English, yet wish to write songs in the English language. Well, Pat's books, including this one, have laid it all out for me in such a way that I now feel I finally 'understand', and am confident that I can achieve my goal of writing good and meaningful songs in English after all. - so.. all Pat's books be highly recommended to any other non-native speakers of English wishing to write quality songs in English ! (of course, you'll have to put in the time and effort to really work through the material conscientiously, and keep working on your English as well..)
In short: fantastic book ! - if you love great songwriting and are a budding songwriter, get it !!!!! (and all other books by the author.) - just the instructions you need to really improve ! (this applies to any songwriter.)