Assuming you want to be the best songwriter you can be, there are certain habits you need to form if you’re going to improve.
Too many people blame great songwriting on talent. I beg to differ.
You can improve your songwriting. But you need to add some habits to your life. Without them, your songs will stagnate.
I don’t claim to be the greatest songwriter who ever lived, but I’m committed to the craft. I’m committed to learning and observing and becoming better.
Here’s are 7 tips:
1. Study Songwriters
Stop trying to be original. Instead, listen to successful writers. Take notes and observe what techniques they use.
What makes their songs successful? Then go and test it out. Without plagiarizing their content, mirror what they do. Put your own spin on their template. This will cause you to grow like crazy.
2. Critique Less, Just Write
How about this for advice: in the beginning stages of writing a song, add as many cliches as possible. Go to town with the cliches. Use and abuse them in your first draft.
Here’s why: we critique too early. There are phases to writing a song. If you critique before you get your ideas out there, you’ll kill your song before it has a chance to develop.
3. Hold Your Ideas Loosely
We’ve all used the hyper-spiritual songwriting trump: “God gave me this song. I’m not changing it.” BS. Don’t blame your lack of hard work on God.
I once heard Brian Doerksen say, “God gives the seed. It’s our responsibility to see it grow.” God may have given you a song idea, but the song is now in your hands. The hard work has begun. Hold your ideas loosely and don’t take them too seriously. Be open to change.
4. Generate Tons Of Ideas
The more the better. The more crappy ideas you draft, the greater the chance you’ll have of producing a diamond in the rough. Capture your ideas (I use Evernote). Don’t discount any idea. You may return to one in a couple years and turn it into something brilliant.
If all you’re doing is writing one song a week or one song a month and utilizing all your first ideas, you’ll have weak songs. Generate ideas all the time. Look for inspiration everywhere and capture it.
We all have our comfortable chord progressions – our common themes. We reside in our comfort zones. That’s why we need to co-write. Nothing will be more frustrating and beneficial than co-songwriting.
But don’t just co-write with anyone. Some co-writes will be a waste of your time. Aim for those who have experience – someone who is better than you. If you’re great at lyric writing, find someone with a better ear for melody. If you typically write worship songs, try writing with someone who’s great at a different genre. It’s amazing what you can learn.
6. Write What You Live
A challenge for all creatives is to create art that stems from our lives. Do you live a life beyond your computer screen? Are you investing in relationships beyond Facebook and Twitter?
That’s where the true artistic gold resides – beneath the surface of your beautiful, fractured life. Write what you live rather than just trying to live what you write.
7. Put It Out There
There comes a time when you need to arise from the shadows. You need to put your songs out there. Great songwriters don’t just write and sing their songs to themselves. They give themselves deadlines and eventually release it.
Whether through a recording, or singing it in church, or performing it at a concert, they ship it. Even though they could tweak for a few more years, they say enough is enough.
Don’t keep it hidden. Find a way to put it out there. Soon.
Question: What else makes you a better songwriter? You can leave a comment by clicking here.