Nick Cave shares advice on battling loss and suffering from grief
(Credit: Henry W. Laurisch)

Nick Cave talks about writer’s block in new Red Hand Files edition

We probably don’t need to tell you how big a fans we are of Aussie legend Nick Cave. As the frontman for The Bad Seeds, the mercurial singer becomes a marauding menace but over letters, he’s rock n’ roll agony uncle we all dreamed of.

Through his project the Red Hand Files which sees Cave answer fans’ letters publically, the singer has addressed many personal subjects including grief, love and literature. On his latest edition, he reflects on writer’s block.

In this latest episode of Red Hand Files, Cave opened up about how he deal with writer’s block when trying to pen lyrics to his songs and how a block can “feel extraordinarily desperate for a songwriter”, however, “in time, they emerge, leaping free of the unknown.”

“In my experience, lyrics are almost always seemingly just not coming,” he continued. “This is the tearful ground zero of song writing — at least for some of us. This lack of motion, this sense of suspended powerlessness, can feel extraordinarily desperate for a songwriter.

“But the thing you must hold on to through these difficult periods, as hard as it may be, is this — when something’s not coming, it’s coming. It took me many years to learn this, and to this day I have trouble remembering it.”

Cave continued in his usual cadence, “The idea of lyrics ‘not coming’ is basically a category error. What we are talking about is not a period of ‘not coming’ but a period of ‘not arriving’. The lyrics are always coming. They are always pending. They are always on their way toward us.

“But often they must journey a great distance and over vast stretches of time to get there. They advance through the rugged terrains of lived experience, battling to arrive at the end of our pen.”

He assured his fan that writer’s block is only temporary and that he should try “not to lose heart” when the lyrics seem far away. He said: “Our task is both simple and extremely difficult. Our task is to remain patient and vigilant and to not lose heart — for we are the destination.

“We are the portals from which the idea explodes, forced forth by its yearning to arrive. We are the revelators, the living instruments through which the idea announces itself — the flourishing and the blooming — but we are also the waiting and the wondering and the worrying. We are all of these things — we are the songwriters.”

Read the full edition of Red Hand Files here. And make sure to catch up with the recent entries which have all be superb.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Delivering curated content