by Andy Scheer
To write something good, you have to write something.
Have you written anything today? Will you?
Late science fiction writer Ray Bradbury said, “Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed.”
Trumpeter Lu Watters, who sparked a revolution in jazz in the 1940s, saw his career deferred when he answered his country’s call to arms. But he did what he could during the war to prepare to launch a reconstituted band in peacetime.
Serving aboard a slow transport, the S.S. Antigua, bound for Hawaii, he forced himself to engage in what became his most productive period as a composer.
“Every day, just to get away from everything . . . I went to the bow of the ship . . . and I wrote a tune a day. Some of them weren’t very good, and . . . of course I knew this. . . . Once in a while you get a wild inspiration and you outline a tune, and if you have any sense after that initial stage you’ll play around with it a little bit, but anyway I wrote one a day.”
Thanks to Watters’s postwar band and other bands, many of those tunes became traditional jazz standards.
Notice the consecutive dates that Watters, at the bow of the S.S. Antigua, wrote these tunes:
“Annie Street Rock”—Sept. 10, 1944
“Sage Hen Strut”—Sept. 11, 1944
“Antigua Blues”—Sept. 12, 1944
“Big Bear Stomp”—Sept. 13, 1944
“Hambone Kelly”—Sept. 14. 1944
To write something good, you have to write something. To avoid mistakes, false starts, and material you’ll have to discard, don’t write anything.
Post this acronym in your work space: FOKSIC
Fingers on keyboard, seat in chair.