Want to be a songwriter?…just do it!

Having just been working on the score for a musical and a promo video…when I got an enews article today from Joe Gilder (a guy I subscribe to) on this topic..I wanted to share it with you today for a few reasons.

  • First, I agree with almost all he is saying
  • Most professional songwriters I have met & spoken to have a strong sense of purpose in ‘doing something rather than waiting’
  • The process of doing it & practicing increases skill & the ability to do it

Anyway, hopefully you will get what I mean by the end of the article…. Hope you find it of interest.

__________________________

I’m a sporadic songwriter.

I love the idea of a daily routine that involves me writing every day. Unfortunately, there are about fifty other daily activities jockeying for a slot in my calendar. I have to prioritize, and some (most) activities get the axe.

While a daily songwriting regimen isn’t something I’ve managed to incorporate into my life, I still need to write songs (especially when I’m releasing 4 EP’s in one year). I’m juuuust getting into songwriting mode now for the next EP, set to release on September 1st. We start recording for the EP in less than two weeks. What does all this mean? I needs to write some songs ASAP.

A few years ago, if you plopped me down into this identical situation — full-band tracking day less than two weeks away, and I haven’t written any songs yet — I would have freaked out.

Today, though? My response is more like, “Huh…guess I better schedule some songwriting sessions on my calendar.” And that’s what I’m gonna do.

Forced Creativity is STILL Creativity

People tend to balk at the idea of forcing yourself to be creative. “Just let it come to you, man. Wait for inspiration to strike, bro!”

Umm…pass.

Being inspired is wonderful. I love it when I get overwhelmed by a desire to sit down and write a song, but that doesn’t happen all the time. If I only wrote songs when I really really felt like it, I’d probably write 2-4 songs per year.

People say they can’t force songwriting. What they mean is they WON’T force it. They only like to do things that are comfortable. Writing while incredibly inspired is easy and comfortable. Writing because you committed to write a song today, inspiration or not? That can be really difficult and uncomfortable.

Anything worth doing will be difficult and uncomfortable at times.

Would you rather passively sit back and wait for a song to come to you? Or would you rather go out and grab it? One option means you’ll be able to release an album every 5 years. The other means you can release music whenever you want.

I’ll take the second one, please.

Here’s the honest truth. I’m capable of writing good songs whether I’m inspired or not. So are you. Why? Because just like throwing a baseball or playing guitar, songwriting is a skill requiring practice. Deliberate practice makes you better and faster.

But daily songwriting is daunting!

I agree. Maybe one day I’ll figure out how to work songwriting into my daily or weekly routine. For now, the best way I’ve found to force myself to write is to tell the world I’m releasing new music. That’s right, I announce the new music before I’ve even written it.

That’s what I did with these 4 EP’s. I announced back in January that I’m releasing 4 EP’s. I hadn’t written a single song yet. But I announced it and set release dates. Now I work backward from the release dates to schedule recording sessions, specifically that first tracking session. That session becomes my songwriting deadline. Then I write as much as I can before the day of the session arrives.

I repeat this process with every EP. And have I written some real snoozers? Yup. Have I written some great songs? Yup. Whether I took two years or two weeks to write them, the results are about the same. I like some. I don’t like others. I pick the ones I like, and they go on the EP.

It’s ridiculously simple, but it’s powerful.

If you want to become a better songwriter, announce to the world that you are releasing your next project (album/EP/single). Give them a release date. Next, work backwards from the release date and set your deadlines for mixing, recording, etc. From there you can set your songwriting deadline. Once that’s set, all that’s left is to force yourself to sit down, face the discomfort of being forced to write something, and WRITE SOMETHING.

Then do it again, and again.

I promise your songs will improve.

But it takes effort. It takes facing a lot of fears and insecurities, but it’s WORTH IT.

Are you willing to put in the work?

______________________

(Ian again)… Now whether you announce to the world EP release dates or not is up to you.. But if not already doing it, why not try (with intent) the idea of sitting down every day, or 3 days and writing ….. something. Even if its rubbish, the very act of doing that is practice, reading up on technique and trying it..will almost force you to grow in your songwriting..and results.

If the majority of the professional full time songwriters do it in a manner similar to this…isn’t it worth having a go?

If so, go for it and don’t forget to let me know how it went for you.

Cheers till next time.

Ian

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One comment on “Want to be a songwriter?…just do it!

  1. John newsome says:

    Wow- it’s a cool and scary thought.
    Scary idea. What if I don’t deliver? What if nothing comes?

    One thought that comes to mind is: I can’t afford to release ordinary songs. I foot the entire bill as an indi artist when it comes to production. My estimate is that I spend about 2K per song to get something up to spec. That’s money I have to pay back too. If you’ve got the full producer/ engineer package going on- more power to ya! I need to release my best.
    I do love the challenge of committing to writing. Thanks Ian

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