Arts & Entertainment, Music

Nun Mode: Discipline in the Creative Process

St. Vincent

Lesson time 06:52 min

Annie shows you how joy and discipline can converge in your creative practice.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Stand on the Tracks · Be Surprised


[00:00:00.00] [MUSIC PLAYING] [00:00:08.92] - I have gone into periods of my life when writing that I like to call "nun mode," which basically means I cut out anything that isn't writing. I would abstain from, like, alcohol. I would abstain from just anything that gave me visceral pleasure and just focus in. When I was writing my last record, which was called "Masseduction," I went into nun mode to do it. And I-- for probably six months, I didn't have any fun. I was just hyperfocused, and writing, and trying to really hone in on what I was trying to say. It's not necessary to become a complete aesthetic, but for me, in that period of time in my life, it really was. I had to just hone in and find-- find it. [00:01:03.80] [MUSIC PLAYING] [00:01:10.05] The great thing about music is that it's generative. Like the more you do, the more you can do. Part of the process is the sitting there and just, like, hoping, hoping that the train rolls through the station. But the old adage goes, like, if you want to get hit by a train, you better go stand on the tracks. [00:01:30.65] So just even being there strumming away or playing away and kind of going, huh-- and even if the-- even if the idea at the time doesn't feel like much, just keep going. Push through the feelings of I'm worthless, this sucks, I hate myself, I'm a fraud. And you just have to push through those feelings, which is difficult. That, I think, is half the battle of writing is sitting with yourself in uncomfortable positions where you're hoping something happens. You're straining your brain, you're straining your spirit to, like, find something to say, something to express, the way to express it. And you feel bad when it doesn't happen or you feel you don't like the way it is happening. [00:02:28.02] But if you can turn that voice down, the inner critic, as much as you possibly can, then you can just generate. I just make things. And I'm not judging them when I'm making them. I save the editing part. I save the critical part for after. [00:02:45.26] My favorite thing to do in the world is set aside an entire day. I know I don't have any fucking conference calls. I don't have any obligations. My obligation is to sit here and write. This is my job. It's your job. [00:03:00.65] Sometimes that means after three hours of kind of noodling away, you take a shower that you don't need to take because the second you step away from it, you go-- -- that's the melody. Oh, yeah, what about this lyric? Because there's this difference between active engagement with it and then the sort of passive engagement with it that you can do that sometimes you need to step away and just kind of let it-- let it happen. And other times you need to force it even when you feel very uncomfortable. [00:03:33.92] From the outside, I think the creative process looks insane. It looks insane. If there was a camera in my studio, it would be me going like this-- typing some lyrics on a laptop, zoning out, picking up ...

About the Instructor

Under the stage name St. Vincent, Annie Clark has won Grammys while remaining fiercely innovative and true to herself. Now Annie is opening the door to her process to teach you how to explore your creativity. Learn how to record music, write songs, improve your guitar skills, and embrace your vulnerability. Let Annie guide you through the ups and downs of creating art so you can share what’s in your heart with the world.

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St. Vincent

Explore your creative process and embrace vulnerability with St. Vincent, the Grammy-winning, genre-defying artist and performer.

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