Healing the mind, body and spirit through songwriting and creative living
When I was diagnosed with MS, I’d been away from music for a while and there was a push for me to steer myself to wellness. That’s when I realized, you can’t heal one bit of you, you need to heal all of you – mind, body and spirit.
I wasn’t acknowledging my spirit back then. I realised there was more than your physical health to heal and hadn’t been paying attention to my spirit and purpose. And my spirit wanted to create, so that’s when I became immersed with music again.
Whoever you are as a person comes out in your songs. And who I am, and a big part of my journey, is healing from being diagnosed with MS to being in remission. I’ve always been about peace and healing the world, but didn’t realise I needed to heal myself. I’m constantly aiming to bring this healing and peace feeling into my life and in my music.
Music is a way of making sense of everything in the world, but also subtly shifting the focus to get the world to be more where I want it to be in a healing way. Through my songs, I’m trying to be helpful. My purpose is to heal the world through my songs – through comfort, joy and hope.
Karen shares some of the ways she used to limit music in her life, and how she has opened up to so much more.
How I used to hold myself back from songwriting
1. You can’t write when you’re recording
I used to stop writing when I had songs ready to record. I believed that by writing more songs at the time I would have been sidelining my album. And that’s just not true. Writing whilst recording, actually opens you up and keeps you open! With the past two albums, I’ve continued writing whilst recording and this has been so great for me.
2. It’s going to take a big shift to get back to songwriting
When you’re not writing regularly, you think it’s going to need a big shift to bring songwriting back into your life. But that’s not true – you can simply do this for 1 hour a week. As part of the Club, I simply write for 1 hour a week. I didn’t know that I could write that quickly and so before that it seemed like a big thing.
3. You can’t rush songwriting
I was a 4 good songs a year songwriter – songs that my audience would love that I could put on an album. That would give me an album every 3 years. I was happy enough with this. I didn’t realise what else would happen when I sped up a bit and pushed a little bit. We draw on the same things whether we’re writing quickly or slowly. It’s all our life experience and our view of the world, and if it comes out quickly, well that’s just a bonus.
4. Nothing’s wrong, why change anything?
I was happy enough with the way I was doing things but I’d not considered what else there could be. I wasn’t stuck, but I just didn’t realise what would happen if I did more or why I should try and do more and what would happen if I did. Rather than wait for inspiration or writing when I felt drawn to writing about, I wanted to see what else there was, so I joined the Club as an experiment. I was curious to know if I was going to write better songs, more songs, or will they be worse? 3 years later, I am still doing this practice as it’s opened me up to so much more.
What writing every week for 3 years has made possible for my songwriting
1. Songwriting helps to heal me
Doing songwriting as a commitment to myself and as something I do all the time makes me happier and more whole in myself. I’ve always been creative, I’ve always written songs, and now I get to do that all the time. For me personally, it’s a soul-feeding thing, it’s my favourite form of creativity.
2. My songs are much more varied
My new album “Let the Light Back In”, which was written entirely from my Club songwriting practice, has much more variety, and is much more interesting than my previous work. Writing each week has not taken away from what I did, but has actually added more to what I do.
3. I’ve become quite lighthearted in my approach
I used to be a really serious songwriter, where the really good songs were ones that I felt passionately about (and were probably political). Now, because I’m now responding to topics every week and writing with more freedom, I find that the really good songs are ones that I’m not really invested in. All of this keeps me open to discovering more about my songwriting.
4. I’ve started co-writing
Lots of other projects have spun off from writing songs week in week out, like co-writing. I have a band with my kids, but now I co-write with them. This brings me immense joy.
5. I am surrounded by more opportunities
This weekly songwriting practice means that that creative part of my brain is constantly on alert and ready and I am able to draw on those skills more readily. The songwriter part of me is switched on all the time, not waiting for inspiration and so it sees more opportunities.
What’s next for my healing journey? Co-writing is a new space of joy for me.
When I used to write 4 songs a year, those 4 songs were really precious and I didn’t want to share that in any way with anyone. But also I wasn’t used to sharing new ideas with people. Through the Club practice, I’m sharing every week. I’m used to offering up whatever comes to me without being judged.
And for collaboration and co-writing every idea is just an idea and you got to be prepared to have ideas you don’t like. You can discard them quickly. It’s about throwing as much out there and seeing what can be shaped, and having fun with it. And the most joyful of my collaborations is with my kids.
Take a listen to the podcast audio for a rare insight into a co-writing experience with Karen’s daughter, Hazel. If you’d like some support with your co-writing, take a look at our co-writing course.
Timestamps for podcast audio:
3:45 – Limitations songwriters put on their songwriting
8:17 – How weekly writing for 3 years has developed Karen’s songwriting
14:58 – Karen shares how peer feedback helps her choose songs for her album
20:47 – Karen shares her biggest joy: playing music with her kids in their family band
24:00 – Karen talks about her journey with MS diagnosis and writing songs for her kids
32:15 – Karen talks about being in remission from MS and shares some of her wisdom
40:25 – How you can fine tune your intuition and inspiration to access the magic of songwriting
45:37 – How you can open up to collaboration
55:05 – Karen shares the original demo recording of “Dinner in Suburbia” written with her daughter Hazel.
About Karen Law:
Karen Law is an award-winning independent folk singer/songwriter from the Sunshine Coast. ‘Let The Light Back In’ is her fourth studio album and has been recorded with two of her children as well as a number of musicians from around the world. Her song Wildflower Woman, which features on the album, was awarded the Alistair Hulett Songwriting Trophy in 2020.
Contact Karen: Website / Facebook
Song credit: “Dinner in Suburbia” Music and Lyrics by Karen Law and Hazel Law. Performed by Karen Law and Hazel Law.
Episode Show Notes:
Get your creativity, confidence, and songwriting output flowing. Join The Club and receive the support and structure to write 10 songs in 10 weeks and get feedback from a private peer community. This is THE essential writing practice that has changed the careers and lives of 1000s of songwriters worldwide.
Just getting started on your songwriting journey and need more hands-on support? Establish a firm foundation and develop your musical and lyric skills with our Beginner Songwriting Courses. They are the perfect place to begin and cover everything you need to know to write your first songs. You’ll receive lessons from Francesca directly!
Don’t struggle to write your next album – write an album a year with ease! Watch our Free Songwriting Masterclass.
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Podcast theme song: “Put One Foot In Front Of The Other One” music and lyrics by Francesca de Valence
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