Using AI to Ruin the Blank Page

Ugh, listen. Lyrics is killing me. Definitely the most difficult part of my music-making workflow each week. I really enjoy (love, even) the other aspects – imagining & putting the song together, choosing the sounds, editing, EQ’ing, mixing, etc – but having to think of something to sing about, write lyrics about it, and then sing them is killing and realllly slowing things down.

This is clearly an area where “”AI”” could/would theoretically help, if AI was good and useful, which so far it is not. At the very least not for creative endeavors like this. There are things that ChatGPT is good/acceptable at, but pure creativity is not one of them.

But something to consider: there is something to be said about AI helping you get over the blank page, the initial creative hurdle of going from Nothing to Something. Lynda Barry, in her writing class covers this perfectly: the first step, when faced with a blank page, is to mark a big X across it. Now it’s already ruined, so whatever you write there will be fine, better than writing nothing. Whatever we write on the blank page could ruin it, but if it’s already ruined, we’re safe. We can put ideas there and not worry about whether they are “good” or not. Starting from a bad place, the “already ruined” place, makes it safer for your ideas to come forward.

ChatGPT is nowhere near being able to create good/useful/adequate lyrics, but it could conceivably give you Something that could get you over that initial hurdle, give you a Terrible First Draft from which you could only improve.

Very not interested in debates about AI generally, or what AI means, or whether it will destroy art & creativity, etc etc. But whatever your feelings about that are, there can be (are) practical applications that it works for, and it’s interesting (to me) to think about how it might be helpful in this one particular case.

Anyways I tried it with last week’s song (prompt was something like “song lyrics about being trapped in a haunted house”) and it gave me nothing even remotely usable, just complete trash that I could barely even read, much less take seriously. And anyways I’m not scared of blank pages, I’ve been writing too long for that. I just don’t enjoy the process of writing lyrics. I might try it again though.

So, that’s my thoughts on that! The end.