Introducing Adam Brock, Songwriting Faculty

We asked this year’s faculty to respond to a question related to this year’s theme of disTRACTION. Today, Adam Brock gets real about the Internet, ego, and some guy mowing the lawn down the street.

What is one of the distractions that typically comes into play when you’re facing the blank page and how do you deal with it?

So let’s be honest—the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of major distractions for writers (songwriters yes, but ANY writer really) in the modern age is the Internet. Anyone who knows me well has heard me whine for hours about the concept that for every great societal boon we’ve enjoyed since the advent of the Internet, we’ve also lost something along with it. I can’t wait to discuss the merits and drawbacks of the Internet in our course together as it relates to writing, sharing, publishing, etc.—especially since I believe we will all have very complex and different ideas about it due to the fact that I was born before the big “I” was a thing, and you all have never known a world without it. It’s going to be a good discussion! However, I think that is perhaps better left for our class as it is such a big idea to tackle. I would like to leave you instead with something a little more subtle to think about in terms of the theme of distraction and songwriting.

We are all aware of external distractions that can affect our work—the Internet, of course, but also some guy mowing the lawn down the street, a part-time job getting in the way, etc.—but what I would like you all to consider are some internal distractions. I believe these are far scarier, and one of my goals for the course is to help you all recognize them and come up with ways to deal with them. What am I talking about? Writing is an intense, cerebral experience. We have to spend a lot of time in our own heads, but our heads aren’t always working with us on the task at hand. It is very easy to be distracted, as it were, by what’s going on in our own heads as we sit down to write. We can be distracted by self-doubt, especially after some disappointing writing sessions. We can be distracted by fear of failure. We can be distracted by our own egos. We can be distracted by a need to be accepted, appreciated—a need to be successful. Before we start our class, think about what distracts you–in your own head–from doing good work, from making your best music?

ADAM BROCK is the singer/songwriter behind indie-pop band Borrowed Beams of Light, and has been/still is the drummer for various regional rock outfits such as Weird Mob, Y’ALL, and The Invisible Hand. His various projects have toured the U.S. extensively and shared the stage with such celebrated groups as Yo La Tengo, De La Soul, Deerhunter, Deerhoof, ExHex, Dr. Dog and The Clientele. His music has received accolades in hundreds of print and online publications, and been licensed for award-winning films. Adam is currently seeking a post-graduate degree in teaching at UVA’s Curry School of Education.