You feel like writing today. You sit down in front of your piano or by your guitar, paper, and pen in hand. You take a deep breath and as you exhale realize… you got nothing.
If you’re a songwriter, you’ve most likely been there. That disappointing moment when your inspiration is high but your ideas wind up crumpled up pieces of paper in the trash. It’s definitely not ideal.
From my own experience, I’ve found that this lack of “creativity” often stems from not knowing how to start. It’s really annoying but not impossible to conquer.
So today I’ll be sharing a couple of tips that can hopefully make your songwriting process a little easier and potentially stress-free.
Find A Place to Write
I never truly understood the importance of having a peaceful and organized workspace until I started working in an office. It’s amazing what having a good environment can do for your creativity and productivity. Songwriting is no different.
If you have the option to move around, find a place you feel comfortable and inspired in. I personally like to take my guitar outside in the summer.
What Do You Want to Write About?
Starting is the hardest part. If you’re like me, you like to start your songs from the very top. Others, however, prefer starting with the hook and working around the chorus. Wherever you choose to start, it’s important to have some sort of plan.
It’s also important to have an idea of what you want to write about. Unless you’re strictly an instrumentalist, lyrics are crucial. This is a songwriting piece, after all. While the lyrics may not come to you just yet, having a basic idea of what you want to talk about will not only help move the process along but help keep your song together too.
Record! Record! Record!
Sometimes inspiration hits us at the strangest times. Luckily, one of the many wonderful things about smartphones is that we have recorders on us at all times. Nothing is worse than having a cool melody or riff idea in your head, only to forget about it 20 minutes later. So if you find yourself humming a cool riff or melody, take your phone out and record it! Future you will thank you!
Don’t Overthink It
There is no denying that we are our own worst critic and it’s easy to dismiss our work before giving it a second chance. Remember to keep an open mind and write what you feel. But, if you’re still not feeling it, it’s okay to stop and take a break! No need to rush either.
It’s easy to fall under the impression that in order to make a great song, we must pull all the tricks out of the bag. During the songwriting process, it’s a good idea to keep things simple and build on what you have later. I laugh at all the times I thought having a great song meant layers upon layers upon layers of complexity. Bruce Lee said it best “Simplicity is the key to brilliance”
Don’t believe me? Check out this video by The Axis of Awesome. So many songs, so little chords.
When I was a junior in high school, I joined a band with a couple of friends from a town over. We may not have been the best, but during this time I learned a lot about songwriting from them. The great thing about music is that we don’t have to do it alone. A lot of the time you can get better by sharing experiences and ideas with others. They can offer fresh insight and feedback. Plus, you get to have fun while doing so. Collaboration is an important part for any musician.
I was lucky enough to be surrounded by talented people and get the chance to be creative. For others, it may not be as easy to find people to mesh and create with.
Fortunately, you can find many places online to help you collaborate. Musourcing, for example, is a great outlet for collaboration. Founded by Robert Braathe after a trip to Nashville, Musourcing is a place where musicians and lyricists alike can share their recordings and lyrics to collab with others. Definitely worth a try!
What’s your songwriting process? Share your thoughts below! We’d love to hear what you have to say.