My friend’s Jane and Dan had a house in Brixton, London, where I used to work from time-to-time. Dan is a musician and was as making an album called The Rules.
He wrote out a set of rules (see left) and recorded according to them.
One morning I came in to find that Dan was still working. He hadn’t slept. A difficult track was threatening to break the 24 hour rule. He finished the song with minutes to spare.
The ideas of rules has had a deep influence on me ever since.
Sometimes when I let myself write without a point, I come up with surprising things. I put a rule around it to develop the idea.
For example, I am writing about an accident through the voices of five different characters. It was difficult to know where to start the process of developing five perspectives, so I wrote their names down in a pattern on a piece of paper. That pattern, their order, became a rule. The story has to work within it and has taken a much more fluid shape as a result.
It is surprising what you can come up with when you have a creative constraint.
He recently recorded the second song of the project with the Archie Bronson Outfit.
Apparently there was a lapse in one of the rules during the recording as the band got hungry and insisted on a lunch break.
I’ll give them that as I can’t write on an empty stomach either.
Do you want to hear what can be made from a set of creative constraints? The second recording I Was a Dead Duck will be released as a limited run vinyl on May 6. You can listen below and should, it’s inspiring. I can hear the influence of lunch.
I feel another set of rules coming on.