Song Doctor Blog
Read about how to write better songs
Happy New Year Everyone!
Often the beginning of the new year or, in this case the decade, provokes a flurry of goals and resolutions, wish lists, schemes and plans to exercise regularly, quit smoking, eat less, save more, study harder or even have that nebulous thing - a 'better work-life balance'. Exhausting just to write them down! Folks start off with high hopes and good intentions, but come February things can dwindle and peter out as so-called 'real life' encroaches.
This can happen with our songwriting goals too. We get fired up big time but somehow lose momentum with our ideas, drafts, schedule, practice - all the bright and beautiful things we said we'd do. How do we keep things going once started?
Here are some interesting strategies that might resonate. Some may work better than others or you could go the whole hog and have a go at all of them. But they work on the principle that motivation and self-discipline is extremely finite. Rather than winging it, arm yourself with a more systematic approach.
1. Accountability - make yourself accountable by enrolling the support of a buddy or several in an active songwriting circle. This helps you get your songs written because you commit to sharing them or drafts with someone else on a designated day at a designated time. Using Google Calendar or similar to send you reminders is a good start too. Other 'professionals' can help with this source of momentum from bandmates to publishers to producers.
2. Consequences - making your goals more public can seriously draw a line in the songwriting sand. One of the boldest goals I've heard publicly stated belongs to local musician Troy Kingi who announced his recording goal of 10 albums over 10 years in 10 genres - so far he's completed 3, but his ambitious declaration has garnered support too, as well as the threat of negative feedback if he's 'unsuccessful'.
Note I said 'more public'. You can restrict how public to a certain extent. On a smaller scale, you can use a closed facebook group/songwriting circle to state your goals and set up a 'fine' /'reward' system if you don't or do meet your 'deadlines'. Flip side is getting the pot if you do!
3. Pay someone to keep you on track - whether it's just scheduled accountability calls - yes, people will do this for you - or specific coaching sessions, tailored systemised support contact/tuition on a formal basis can keep up your momentum. Like a personal trainer - but for your songwriting.
4. Pay someone to do it for you - major recording artists and labels with staff writers do this, understanding that more writers mean more new songs. This in turn means a higher probability of finding songs that fit an artist, perfectly. Quincy Jones auditioned over 600 songs before deciding on the tracks for Michael Jackson's Thriller. But from a more domestic perspective, cutting in other co-writers or producers can lighten your load and really add to your own momentum.
You can also pay or barter for other services that take you away from songwriting - from mowing the lawns to getting your car washed, cleaning your house, getting foodbags delivered to doing the books. Comes a time, even just once or twice.
5. Small Steps - setting up smaller achievable tasks can mean quick wins, which keeps the ball rolling. If your goal for 2020 was 'Write New Album', and that paralyses you, start with 'Write 5 Song Titles' this week. The scope is reduced and completing the task moves you forward quickly. Momentum!
6. Song Prompts - getting on to a songwriting challenge or using song prompts functions like reminders on a calendar, but with given starting points that act as triggers to starting some aspect of a song. There are loads of free ones online, but I've just finished Ed Bell's useful book, The 30-Day Speed Songwriting Challenge, which pokes and prods you to write for 60-90 minutes every second day.
Sure I had to modify which were my 30 days, but the combo of manageable task (quick win) plus supplied prompt made it too convincing to ignore over a really busy time for me. While I wasn't looking at the productivity side of the challenge, rather wanting to see what it would do to my comfort zone, it definitely made me stick to the output. Plus I'd told you ...so no way could I shame out! Haha! Double whammy.
Whatever works for you of course, but keeping the wheels rolling makes it a heck of a lot easier to move in and out of active songwriting sessions and mulling things over. It helps with your continuity.
best wishes and talk more soon
ps here's an article that might help you with rhyming.