What Taylor Swift Taught Me About Staying Creative In Isolation

Photo by Eva Renaldi, courtesy of Creative Commons

On February 12th 2021, Taylor Swift released a new take on one of her classic hits. Other than a few minor differences in intonation and a clearer sound, “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” is virtually indistinguishable from the old version, but is completely owned by her. This means that people won’t feel inclined to listen to the one owned by her previous label, Big Machine Records.

I was absolutely thrilled when I heard that “Love Story” would be the first re-recording Taylor Swift’s would release, as it’s the first song that I ever heard from her. With the opening line, “We were both young when I first saw you” and her lyric video filled with photos of fans, it’s clear that this song choice was a deliberate decision to pay homage to fans who’ve been with her through it all.

Her music always seemed to come at exactly the right time for me, providing me with songs that made the dull moments exciting and lyrics that made me feel less alone.

Taking this trip down memory lane really made me think about the impact that Taylor Swift has had on my life. Her music always seemed to come at exactly the right time for me, providing me with songs that made the dull moments exciting and lyrics that made me feel less alone. Above all else though, she’s gradually become my biggest writing role model. While our mediums are different, her songwriting and storytelling abilities have time and time again pushed me to become a better writer. 

What I find most admirable about Swift is her strong work ethic and the way she continuously strives to improve. She’s reached the point in her career where she could release pretty much anything and still thrive, but she still uses each album as an opportunity to go out of her comfort zone and push her creative abilities to a new level. For a long time, I thought that there was a point in one’s creative path where one would inevitably plateau, but Swift demonstrates beautifully that there’s always room for improvement and growth. When partaking in any artistic endeavour—whether it be visual or written—there is no true end destination. Each project is a step in a never-ending journey of creative expression, and it only really ends when you let it. 

However, every mistake that I made was a valuable lesson learnt, and it got me one step closer to the writer that I am today.

While Taylor Swift’s songs have continuously evolved throughout her career, her re-recording journey has also taught me the importance of staying true to your past self. Her style has shifted so much since “Love Story” was first released thirteen years ago, and I think it’s incredibly admirable how she revisited the song in a way that really honors her past creations. I’m sure there’s a part of her more contemporary persona that cringes at her eighteen-year-old perception of love, but she has complete respect for a song that helped her get her to where she is today. We are who we are because of the mistakes we made in the past, and acknowledging that is key to being successful creatively. When I reread my old stories or poems, there’s always a part of me that wants to erase every trace of them and never look back. However, every mistake that I made was a valuable lesson learnt, and it got me one step closer to the writer that I am today. 

Every track is filled with whimsy and wonder as she moves away from her penchant for diaristic songs and explores a wide variety of perspectives and narratives.

Swift has especially served as an inspiration in this past year. While I wish I could say that I have used the pandemic as an opportunity to produce as much creative content as her, I’ve sadly spent way more time thinking about writing than actually doing it. It’s difficult to feel motivated when moving from my desk to my kitchen table is the biggest change in my day. This pandemic-induced slump has clearly not affected Taylor Swift, as she released albums Folklore and Evermore within a six-month window. It goes without saying that her ability to be that prolific comes from an extreme place of privilege, and her amount of productivity is not sustainable or feasible for the grand majority of creative people. 

However, I think that her two most recent albums are a lesson in finding light in even the darkest of times. For many, these albums offered a respite from the chaos. The songs on Folklore and Evermore demonstrate Swift’s strongest writing skills and have brought her places she had never been before. Every track is filled with whimsy and wonder as she moves away from her penchant for diaristic songs and explores a wide variety of perspectives and narratives. She’s now in a happy relationship, and yet she’s able to write heartbreaking songs about breakups and adultery in a way that is completely honest and real.

It’s because her passion bleeds through every single one of her songs, whether it be a catchy single or a melancholic ballad.

When writing fiction, so much of what I create is affected by conversations I eavesdrop on or interactions that I observe out in public, but obviously, this process hasn’t been viable since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Taylor Swift has expertly shown that it’s possible to write about experiences outside of our own and explore emotions that aren’t in alignment with the routine we are restricted to. Our imagination is boundless, and this pandemic is a perfect opportunity to explore that in an unrestrained and honest manner. 

Even if you don’t like Taylor Swift, there’s still a lot to admire in her. There’s a reason she’s sustained this popularity for so long. It’s because her passion bleeds through every single one of her songs, whether it be a catchy single or a melancholic ballad. Her level of artistic integrity and creative drive is what I work towards in my own writing, and I can’t wait for her future releases to serve as new fuel for my creativity. Until then, I will be listening to “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” on repeat.

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