Tools that have helped me lately:
- I have a playlist that might as well be called "Hey Future Liz, Listen to This." It's where I store song recommendations, artists to whom I've given insufficient attention (this realization is sometimes prompted by a death), miscellaneous new releases I don't have time to listen to right when I hear about them, etc. I try to grab a few tracks from each artist, not all from the same album and not all at the top of Spotify's recommendation, and then let the player shuffle as it will. The idea for the playlist, as well as the name, comes from my old guitar teacher Chris Corsale, who used to talk about exploring music as finding and pulling threads.
- A different playlist, the Amplifier's roundup of bands in uniform, was a useful way to think about how we might dress for the photo shoot. (In suits, but make it rock? How do we avoid resembling a wedding band or a steampunk collective? We have discussed Devo-style jumpsuits, but not for this shoot.)
- Austin Kleon's piece on creative surrender is lovely, and not just because he cites some of my favorite writing on the subject by Martha Graham and Kenny Werner.* The approach is similar to what Keith Johnstone talks about in Impro, though the mechanics of musical improv are different—and feel, to me, far riskier—than theatrical improv.
- Tarot as a tool of divination can be just as needlessly restrictive as any other superstition, but tarot as a randomized archetype generator is kind of interesting. Since every symbol has multiple interpretations, the real meaning comes from you, so on the days when feelings are murky, this can be a fun way to focus. (I'm obviously not going to link to that site without clicking, and it generated the Wheel of Fortune: this week really is about letting go of control, huh?)
- I'm about to send the band a demo whose bridge contains some gibberish placeholder lyrics, ending with "cauliflower." I haven't been able to get to the right words, so maybe the group can find them. Or maybe the prospect of an audience will make my brain land on the right words about five seconds after I hit Send. Either one works. Gibberish is more useful than it gets credit for.
*Werner's guided meditation hasn't been quite what I've needed to deal with musical performance anxiety, but a brief daily meditation does seem to help. Maybe that should be in the list of tools too.