When you’re writing songs, you are creating music and words to express something original. Many people get hung up trying to write something poetic, or worse, perfect. But the truth is that what makes your song special might also be something for which you’ll get criticized.
A commercial songwriter has a different purpose in mind when he picks up a guitar to write a song than a person who is just writing songs for fun. And someone who has written over 10,000 songs will have a different process than someone who is writing her first tune.
The key is to pick up where you are and start. Your task is to make music of lyric and lyric of music. Your job is not to please everybody, or anybody with your first few attempts, except maybe yourself for now, and your spouse or dog if you’re lucky.
After you have written a few dozen songs, you’ll be able to listen to your early compositions with more objectivity than at first. You’ll start to realize that you could have done this or that differently, rhymed more or less, went up or down in the melody, used this writing technique.
One of the best bits of writing advice that anyone ever gave me is to just do it. My dad, Nashville Songwriter Hall of Famer Kim Williams’ motto was “Read, read, read and write, write, write.” He said a writer has to “balance the intake with the output,” and I believe that’s true.
The writers’ input can come from enjoying time in nature, listening to bird calls or a passing train, from watching movies and television shows that stimulate your mind and imagination, conversations with friends or those overheard on the subway, and of course, as Dad said, reading.
Reading helps songwriters to transform their thoughts into images, and that’s the same skill that writers need to keep a listener’s attention.
So as you research online and pursue your songwriting bliss, don’t forget to put away the device, pick up a pen and notebook and just write. You’ll be so glad that you did.
For the lyric of music and the music of lyric is never far for those who seek to cooperate with Inspiration.
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