I realised a long time ago that when it comes to the songwriting process there’s no such thing as the perfect way of writing songs, it can always be improved upon.
Listed below are twelve ways in which I think you can enhance, improve and eventually master your songwriting process.
Even if you implement just one of these suggestions you will be well on your way to writing more songs and generally being more creative with your life.
Here they are in no particular order of importance:
- Always keep a journal:
Journaling is an essential part of the songwriting process. Keeping a journal allows you to capture your thoughts, feelings, and observations in real-time. It’s a place where you can freely express what’s on your mind and heart.
This documentation of your personal experiences can create a rich well of inspiration from which to draw ideas for songs. Over time, you’ll find that even the most ordinary experiences can serve as the basis for extraordinary songs.
- Always make time for you:
One of the most common challenges songwriters face is finding the time to write. Balancing work, family, and other commitments can be tough, but it’s important to carve out a special time in your day dedicated solely to songwriting.
Consistency helps, and even if you can spare only a few minutes each day, the cumulative effect can be significant. Making time for songwriting not only enhances your skills but also affirms your identity as a songwriter.
- Use all of your senses in your song lyrics:
Song lyrics should engage the listener on multiple levels, and this includes the sensory level. When writing lyrics, try to include elements that relate to sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell.
By incorporating sensory details into your writing, your lyrics become more vivid and evocative, helping to create a deeper connection with the listener. This technique enhances the emotional impact of your songs and helps listeners to fully engage with your music.
- Become perpetually curious with the world:
Curiosity is a songwriter’s best friend. The world is full of stories, experiences, and ideas just waiting to be discovered. Maintaining a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world can infuse your songwriting with fresh perspectives and inspiration.
Try new things, ask questions, engage with different cultures and ideas, and don’t be afraid to venture out of your comfort zone. These experiences provide rich fodder for songwriting and can help you find unique and compelling song ideas.
- Tame your inner voice:
Your inner voice can be your greatest ally or your worst enemy. It can be filled with self-doubt, fear, and negativity that hinder your creative process. But remember, it’s merely a voice; it’s up to you to decide how much power to give it.
The key is to recognise when your inner voice is holding you back and learn ways to quiet it or refocus its message. Trust in your abilities as a songwriter, and let the creativity flow.
- Don’t be afraid of your own writing:
Not every song you write will be a hit, and that’s okay. Part of the creative process involves trying things that might not work out. It’s through these experiments that you discover new techniques, styles, and ideas.
Don’t be discouraged by the songs you deem as ‘bad’; instead, view them as stepping stones towards the ‘good’ songs. Each piece you write, regardless of the outcome, contributes to your development as a songwriter.
- Listen to lots of music/read lots of books:
Broadening your musical and literary horizons can significantly enrich your songwriting. Listening to a wide variety of music introduces you to different musical structures and melodic combinations.
Similarly, reading widely exposes you to different writing styles, narratives, and linguistic expressions. All of these can spark new ideas and help you refine your own songwriting style.
- Learn other people’s songs:
Learning to play or sing other artists’ songs can offer valuable insights into the mechanics of songwriting. It allows you to understand why certain songs resonate with you and others don’t.
By dissecting your favourite songs, you can explore their structures, chord progressions, lyrical choices, and more. This understanding can then inform your own songwriting, helping you to craft songs that resonate with others in a similar way.
- Find and know thyself:
Authenticity is crucial in songwriting. The most memorable songs come from a place of truth and personal experience. By knowing who you are, your beliefs, passions, fears, and experiences, you can write songs that are genuine and emotionally compelling.
This self-awareness allows you to avoid clichés and instead create lyrics that reflect your unique perspective.
- Don’t throw anything away…EVER!:
Every idea, no matter how seemingly insignificant, can hold potential. Something you wrote months or even years ago could suddenly take on new relevance or inspire a fresh idea.
Keep all your notes, drafts, and even those scraps of paper with a single line on them. Remember, your opinion of your work can change over time, and what you once dismissed as ‘rubbish’ might later prove to be a gem.
- Join a songwriting community (or two):
Being part of a songwriting community can be incredibly beneficial. It provides opportunities to learn from others, share your work, and receive constructive feedback.
This supportive environment can help build your confidence and develop your skills. Moreover, knowing that you’re not alone in your creative struggles and triumphs can be a significant source of motivation and inspiration.
- Find a songwriting collaborator (or two):
Collaboration can be a powerful tool in songwriting. Working with another songwriter can provide a fresh perspective, spur creativity, and help you learn new techniques.
A collaborator can challenge you, inspire you, and push you to create your best work. Moreover, the process of bouncing ideas back and forth can lead to innovative concepts that you might not have thought of on your own.
Every songwriter should have at least one songwriting collaborator in their contacts list
Phew! There you go. What do you think of this list? Is there anything that I have missed out and needs to be added? If you have any experiences after applying any of these suggestions (positive or negative) or, you have other suggestions that need to be added to this list, let me know.