This is an excerpt from the sixteenth edition of The Write Fit, a fortnightly newsletter about writing, editing and proofreading, content marketing and good editorial practices for business, from Sarah Mitchell and Dan Hatch at Typeset.
It’s 1957. Elvis Presley is one of the biggest stars in the world. His debut film, Love Me Tender, is a massive hit. Two young songwriters, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, are commissioned to write songs for the superstar’s next blockbuster movie, Jailhouse Rock.
What happens next contains a lesson for all of us when it comes to creativity, content creation, and involuntary imprisonment.
But I’ll let Stoller tell you the story. This is from an interview he gave to Mojo magazine in April 2009.
“We flew in to New York from LA, where we were living at that time, and we had a hotel suite. We had a piano put in, in case the muse struck us, and (music publisher) Jean Aberbach… handed us a script for a movie. We threw it in the corner with the tourist magazines that you get in hotels.
“We were having a ball in New York, going to the theatre, going to jazz clubs to hear Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, doing a lot of drinking. On a Saturday morning – we’d been there about a week – Jean knocked on the door and said, in a very Viennese accent, ‘Vell boys, you vill haf my songs for the movie.’
“Jerry said, ‘Don’t worry Jean, you’ll have them.’ Jean said, ‘I know.’ And he pushed a big chair in front of the door and sat down and said, ‘I’m going to take a nap and I’m not leaving until you have my songs.’
“So we wrote four songs in about five hours and then were free to go out.”
The songs were Jailhouse Rock, (You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care, Treat Me Nice and I Want to Be Free.
Not a bad few hours’ work, huh?
There’s a pretty good chance you’re reading this newsletter at home. And while you might not have an Austrian music publisher blocking your doorway, you do have a microscopic virus doing basically the same thing.
It’s possible you’re still working very hard. I hope you are, as it means work is still flowing. But it’s also possible you’re either at a bit of a loose end or you can see the loose end just around the corner.
If that’s you, don’t be tempted to waste this spare time on jigsaw puzzles and Netflix.
While your first concern right now must always be your health, you also have a great opportunity to take a step back from the frontline and work on your business. It’s an opportunity to learn a lesson from Stoller and Leiber and do all those things you’ve been putting off for one reason or another.
In particular, this is a great time to plan and create content you can use to promote your business once this government-mandated house arrest is over.
Pinch a piece of paper and some Crayolas from the kids and brainstorm some content ideas. Create an editorial calendar. Rework your strategy. Write blog posts. Plan a video series or webinar. Start a podcast.
In short, create content like someone is going to let you out afterwards.
31 March 2020
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