The number one complaint from aspiring songwriters I hear is that they struggle to finish their songs. There are so many folks out there with reams of lyrics and musical fragments languishing in diaries or on various recording devices just waiting to be completed….(cue music!)
Some how. Some day. Somewhere.
And here is the cure – write more. The cure to not finishing songs is to spend more time writing songs. It’s that obvious!
The trick is to set yourself up so you don’t have to think or wheedle or force yourself to do this. Set yourself up so that you don’t have to treat yourself like a kid who doesn’t want to eat vegetables, and then feel bad afterwards because you didn’t write a song today, and therefore you are a REALLY BAD PERSON! The idea is to create a process that lets you write your songs. You give yourself permission, put some planks in place, and then, just like you clean your teeth, you write songs – as a habit. It becomes weird if you don't!
None of this is hard – in fact, your life will feel a whole lot more better because you wind up doing something you REALLY WANT TO! It’s just about removing any vestige of will power that you have to summon up to write songs when you want nothing more than to faceplant drooling on the couch with Netflix.
The process you create (and it’s pretty individual, even though there are some common themes) will support you to write more. When you write more often and you write more material, you give yourself the chance to deep dive into your songs, and you will finish them. You will write and rewrite, refine and create, critique and tweak. And I can, hand on heart, tell you that the profound pleasure that comes from finishing a song’s first draft – one you can show someone – is a mighty thing to feel. It is empowering.
When you read Pip’s story, you can see she has a long game, that she’s a realist, she’s thought about her goals, why she wants to write and the form she has chosen. But the very individual process she has set up for herself has supported her to treat writing as an ingrained habit, allowing a great deal of continuity. Note that what works for her may not necessarily work for you. Here are a bundle of processes and rituals that have worked for some of the most famous writers in the world to get you thinking what might!
Without being formulaic, there are very practical issues you can consider to let yourself write more songs.
The point is that coming back to your process means that you will be write songs consistently, and that will build your ‘muscle’ and let you finish your work.
What if you wrote one song a week? That's 52 songs in the next year. Or one song a month? (like Bjork does). That’s an album a year. Just saying.
It's no surprise the first thing we cover in our Songwriters Clinic is how to set yourself up for successful songwriting. That's success on your own terms. It's something you can revisit at whatever stage of your career or lifestyle. And it's one of the kindest things you can do for yourself.
Please feel free to share what some of your own process quirks are - I promise to keep them anonymous!
Talk more soon.
ps thanks for all those who have booked for the Wanaka Songwriters Clinic. Please note our early bird ticket price is only available until 22 Sep.
Hi, I'm Charlotte Yates and I can help you get better at writing songs.