Songwriting is a mysterious and highly respected discipline. Some of the greatest songwriters of our time seem to have a knack for waking up every morning and churning out at least one song by the time the sunsets. While this level of productivity may seem purely god-given, you’ll be happy to know that being a good songwriter comes down to a combination of discipline, curiosity, and patience. We’ve listed a few tips below to help boost your songwriting abilities.
Build Your Temple
Most successful songwriters can maintain their daily focus because their musical workspace is separate from their everyday living space. While we live in the bedroom producer’s age, it’s important to understand that you can only draw so much creativity from the same space you sleep and relax in.
If possible, try to set up your creative space in a quiet area of your home. There should be little to no passing distractions around the space that should host some of your creature comforts – so that you’re not inclined to leave. If you have the budget and access, you can also rent out studio space from recording studios to use for laying down song ideas. You’ll be surprised how much more productive you can be when you feel as if your creative space and relaxing space are separated.
Make A List
Creativity can be an organized process. While the premise behind songwriting is to seek ideas from silence, you can lay out a few preconceived notions for where you’d like your creative choices to fall. One of the simplest ways to implement this concept is to formulate a shortlist of basic creative aspirations for the day or session. Items on this list could include things like:
- Creating just the instrumental for an entire song.
- Creating the lyrics and rhyme scheme for a song.
- A particular genre, style, standard, or mood that you would like to generate with your composition.
- A particular musical challenge you would like to set yourself (eg. see how high you can sing or how many lyrics you can fit into a bar of music.
Keep A Record
Professional songwriters are writing all the time, sometimes even more so than in the studio. The writing portion of the brain needs to be stretched, flexed, and exercised at every opportunity so that when the time comes to write under pressure, it’s easier for you to achieve a flow.
A prevalent habit that good songwriters employ is to keep a small book or journal on hand to record any crucial thoughts they have at the time. Most people tend to come up with brilliant ideas just as they’re about to fall asleep or as they awaken, and this is a great time to try to exercise your writing muscle as freely as possible. With time and practice, you should find that you are less apprehensive when it comes to generating fresh ideas, and you’ll also be able to take your creative ideas further and for more extended periods.
Discover, Don’t Build
Rick Rubin is renowned for pulling the most authentic pieces of an artist to the forefront of their creative works, one of the more cherished and accomplished music producers of our time. Rubin spends most of his studio sessions simply sitting in the corner and gently advising artists as they wander through their creative process. He leaves the walls of his studio white and bare – so that artists have to form visual ideas on these blank canvases themselves.
Rubin’s ethos lies in the idea that creativity is more about discovery than it is construction. If an artist sits down and tries to force a song out of themselves, it may not be the truest reflection of where they are at, and they might not even enjoy their creation. Try instead to allow yourself to be a conduit of ideas that come from the world and flow through you. The more you know you’re not in control of the ideas that come to you, the better you will be at filtering the ones that work best for your songs.
A quick way to unlock some healthy song ideas is to try and mimic the work of your influences. Every songwriter’s works are just a collection of ideas picked up from other artists and reworked. This technique is also a wonderfully fluid way to see which areas of your influences work for your projects and which are simply for listening pleasure.
Make a playlist of artists and albums that you are currently enjoying or that you find interesting. Starting with the easiest songs, find tracks that you can learn and practice. Pick a few songs that resonate the most with your creative aspirations once you’ve done a decent amount of study on these works. Try to recreate these songs as your own. You can either flip the song’s lyrical concept over a fresh musical composition or try to use a new song concept with rhythms or chord structures from your playlist. These are time-tested techniques used by songwriters of all levels of proficiency.
Draw From Other Art Forms
Songwriting is about writing and relaying a riveting story or idea in musical form. You can find these ideas in so many other forms of creativity, and you need to try and draw inspiration from art forms other than music.
Many artists turn to film, books, or visual arts to find inspiration for their next creative works. Others use other more unconventional fields like food, fitness, or science for stimulation. So many songs have been drawn up from a songwriter or producer channeling the idea of another creative and making it their own. It’s also highly beneficial to treat your inner artist and actively seek new areas of creativity that inspire you. Set aside one day a week to take yourself to a new space of inspiration. This may require you to get out of your comfort zone at times, but more often than not, this is where some of the most unique ideas find you.
Every creative’s journey is unique and relative to their circumstance. There are plenty of ways to write a great song, and the more techniques and routines you collect on your musical road, the better you’ll become at seeing our ideas through. Try to remember to enjoy the process, stay authentic to what is valuable to you as an artist, and back your ability to learn and progress by trying. Thanks for reading through our list of 6 Tips To Better Songwriting.