NB: Republished with permission from Corey Stewart Online
A process is defined as “… a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular goal.” As for a songwriting process, that goal is of course the completion of a song from start to finish.
Songs are what makes this music industry go round and the more that songwriters are encouraged, educated and most importantly, empowered about their own creative workflow, the better off this music business will be.
How you write your songs, from the initial spark of a songwriting idea to the final stroke of your pen, all comes down to how you work your creative process.
Now, there are as many variations to the songwriting process as there are songwriters in the world; however, I sincerely believe that all of this can be distilled into five pillars of a songwriting process.
How effective your songwriting is depends on how you handle these five pillars which create the foundation of your songwriting process.
Below is an outline of the five pillars…
- The Songwriter:
The first pillar of the songwriting process starts with the songwriter themselves.
Every song begins with an individual’s inspiration, motivation, and personal experiences therefore, maintaining a healthy state of mental, physical, and spiritual health is fundamental.
When the songwriter is healthy in mind, body and spirit, they are in a better position to translate their thoughts and feelings into lyrics and melody.
Moreover, the songwriter’s mindset and environment significantly impact the songwriting process. Their thoughts, moods, and the physical surroundings can all influence the style and substance of the song hence, finding an environment that nurtures creativity and aligns with the songwriter’s comfort is crucial for the successful genesis of a song.
- The Foundation:
The second pillar involves creating an environment and process that fosters creativity and inspiration.
It’s about building a structure that can accommodate the spontaneous nature of inspiration because songwriting often springs from moments of inspiration that can occur at any time, thus having a system that allows for these moments to be captured is vital.
This means setting up a workspace that encourages focus, equipping it with the necessary tools, and arranging your schedule to allow time for creativity.
Whether this means having a quiet home studio or working in bustling public spaces, the important thing is to build a foundation that aligns with your creative style and rhythm.
- The Creation:
The third pillar focuses on the process of transforming an initial idea into a song.
This can be an emotional experience as it involves pouring personal feelings, ideas, and narratives into a coherent structure of verses, choruses, and bridges. It’s about bringing something into existence from nothing.
Each songwriter’s creation process is unique. Some might start with a melody, some with a lyric, and others might begin with a chord progression or a rhythm.
This pillar encourages songwriters to explore different methods and to find a process that best resonates with them.
- The Revision:
The fourth pillar involves the revision and refinement of the song after it has been written.
This process is crucial to ensuring the song’s quality, and it involves scrutinising the song, editing out any unnecessary parts, and refining the lyrics and melodies.
The revision phase is also about knowing when to stop refining. A songwriter needs to recognise when their song has reached its full potential.
This pillar allows songwriters to engage with their inner critic in a positive way, refining their song without letting self-doubt hinder their creative process.
- The Business:
The fifth and final pillar concerns the business side of songwriting. After a song is finished, it’s important to think about its purpose.
Is the completed song for the songwriter to perform at gigs? Is it for another artist? Could it be licensed for use in film or advertising? Or, was it merely (and just as importantly) a therapeutic endeavour?
This pillar requires a strategic mindset, understanding that songwriting is not just an art but also a business. It requires an understanding of the music industry, copyrights, and song placements.
This doesn’t mean losing the love for the craft; rather, it’s about finding the best platform for your work to be heard and appreciated.
If you pay attention to and integrate these five pillars into your songwriting process you’ll find that you’ll be a more productive, efficient, creative and self aware songwriter.
What you’ll find is that you will finish more songs than you start and you’ll not be afraid of songwriters’ block, procrastination, the blank page or your inner critic.
In fact, they will all become your friends.
These five pillars are a work in progress and I intend to explore the many facets of these five pillars through created and curated content in future posts, so if you have any questions you want answered regarding your songwriting process or, you have your own experiences you want to share, please let me know.