Elusive Momentum


“Elusive Momentum”
Archived from the now defunct guildcreatives.com website

Ever been in a rut? A dry spell? Had writer’s block? Or what about a patch that’s consistently creative but slow like extracting treacle from a tree?

Then there’s the opposite situation. Ever had days when you’re in the shower and ideas are flying around, making it impossible to get your hair washed because you keep having to dry your hands to press record on your phone as you lean out of the shower cubicle. Or have you sat in a meeting and can’t concentrate because an idea is nagging at you? Sometimes do your fingers get itchy to sketch, to make, to sew?

There’s a word that has floated through my life for years and it speaks to both of these scenarios.


Movement, the driving force, impetus, energy, force, power, strength.

And the opposite? Lethargy, weakness, stagnation.

Momentum: when you have it you’re unstoppable, when you don’t you can’t get started.

I’ve had a lot of conversations with artists, bands, leaders and people over the years about feeling stuck, not being able to move, spinning their wheels, running up and down on the spot. And I’ve always insisted that some movement is necessary, just one small step forward, just a small change in perspective or language or thought pattern.

However I stumbled across this article the other night and thought it did a much better job of articulating the complex and amazing power of momentum. It is written in a leadership context but I think there’s a lot of great lessons here that we can learn from as artists who are seeking to break new ground and find new depths and rhythms to our art marking.

I was particularly taken with this idea of an ‘ever-changing consistency’.

“It seems to me that momentum is the property of leaders, who model ‘an ever-changing consistency.’ That is an oxymoron but it’s true. Momentum comes to those who model consistency yet find within the parameters of consistency a constant innovation, fresh ideas and timely change. The mystery of momentum is unlocked by leaders possessing the capacity to discern the constants from the changeable, and make timely adjustments that produce fresh life.”

For me as a songwriter the tools available to me don’t differ that much from thousands or millions of people for hundreds of years. In the Western musical world I have 12 notes in an octave to write from and even though new instruments are still being invented I’m pretty much working in a paradigm of standard acoustic and electronic instruments. And yet I am constantly trying to find ways to write something fresh, something new to me, a current expression of where my head and heart are at. I’m sure there’s a consistency of sound that I lean on, a certain type of phrasing that makes people say “That’s a Ben Grace tune”. This doesn’t discourage me at all but rather gives me energy that as time rolls by that my voice and sound continues to evolve, change and stay the same all in the same breath.

I hope you enjoy the article HERE and that it encourages you in your art making this week.

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