In 1960, a young guitar player was living in a Nashville trailer park.
He’d been a dishwasher, a saddle-maker, a bouncer, a door-to-door salesman.
He’d been in The Air Force, the oil fields, in a pawnshop, in the cotton fields.
But all he dreamed about was playing guitar and writing country songs.
His friend, Hank Cochran, had a job as a songwriter.
He said he could get him a job as a songwriter, too.
It was his dream job, what he’d always wished for.
He couldn’t believe it when it finally came true.
But on his first day on the job, he froze.
He’d never had to write songs to order.
Normally his ideas just came to him while driving or doing something else.
He tried everything to make an idea for a song happen.
But the more he tried, the worse it got.
All day long, his mind was blank.
His dream job was slipping away from him because he wanted it too badly.
He felt like giving up.
He had no one to talk to about it.
He spent all day, alone, staring at a blank pad.
Staring at the walls.
Eventually, in frustration, he heard himself say “Hello walls.”
He even thought, I wonder if I could start a song that way?
Then he thought, no that’s stupid.
Then he thought, I’ve got nothing else – it’s better than nothing.
And he thought, if I can talk to the walls I can sure as shit talk to the window.
And he said “Hello window, I see you’re still here.”
Then he looked up and said “Hello ceiling, I’m gonna stare at you awhile.”
And, because he had nothing else, he began to write it all down, as a country song.
And when he’d written the lyrics, he wrote a harmony to go with them.
And soon he had a complete song called “Hello Walls”.
How are things with you today?
Don’t you miss her,
Since she up and went away?
I bet you dread to spend another lonely night with me.
But lonely walls I’ll keep you company.
I see that you’re still here.
Aren’t you lonely,
Since our darling disappeared?
Is that a teardrop in the corner of your pane?
Don’t you try and tell me that it’s rain.
I’m gonna stare at you awhile.
You know I can’t sleep,
So just bear with me a while.
We gotta stick together or else I’ll lose my mind.
I got a feeling she’ll be gone a long, long time.”
That song went to number 1 and sold two million copies.
The writer was, of course, Willie Nelson.
Willie had learned the secret to getting unstuck: just start writing, about anything.
Willie wrote the song ‘Crazy’ for Patsy Cline.
It became the biggest jukebox hit of all time.
Since then he’s written 2,500 songs and recorded 300 albums.
He became a millionaire many, many times over.
Because he learned one thing about writing, and creativity in general.
Don’t wait for inspiration to hit you, just get started.
Being stuck is just that: stuck.
So use anything to get unstuck, to get moving: just start writing,
Start with anything, it doesn’t matter.
Once you’ve started, everything begins to fall into place.