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7 Tips To Consistently Create New Songs

7 Tips To Consistently Create New Songs

Consistently creating new songs can feel overwhelming, and song ideas can be like Bigfoot sometimes – pretty elusive!

So you how do you: (1) make sure you have something to write about, (2) get those inspired moments into some sort of song idea form, and (3) keep the creativity flowing and the muse showing up over the long haul?

We’ll provide you with seven tips to help you consistently create new songs and bag those elusive ideas!

 

Always Be Writing Something Down!

I know, this sounds pretty basic, but I’m adding a little twist here.  Even if something doesn’t resonate with you immediately – be writing things down.  This gets you into the habit of looking and listening so the new songs and song ideas become a part of your day-to-day.

Object writing is a great way to do this.

It gets you started on the observation path each morning (if you do it over coffee in the AM), or can give you a nice break during you busy work day (lunch time).

This will get you to the: “that would be a great song hook” moments much more quickly.

You’ll also be amazed at how many things you would have passed by before now seem interesting enough to spark new songs.

 

Don't Miss A Muse Moment

When something does hit in a big way (i.e., a full verse, chorus or song) – write it down immediately.

How often have you seen or heard something and thought – I’ll remember that and write it down later.  But within 30 seconds you’ve lost it?

Always write down things that “hit you” even if it doesn’t have what some would consider a hook.

Why?

Because, if they struck you that way, they have some connection to a memory, an idea or a moment for you.  You may not know what it means right now, or what that connection is, but that’s OK.  You’ll figure it out as you’re writing the song.

This next part is very important:  be sure to not only write down what it was, but the circumstance that spurred it.  That way, you’ll get yourself back in the moment when you come back around to it.

An example from my own notebook:

“Then the good minute goes –
Already how am I so far
Out of that minute?”
– Robert Browning

My jotted note after the quote:

A moment in time – then the moment’s gone, in the past, you want to stay in it, but ultimately impossible. Context – reading an article about memories and why we remember. The elusive aspect of time and how we’re always trying to recapture “the good minute” – clock is the reminder of memories coming and going, pictures the only record – memories change as you get older – better memories than what happened – leave out the bad things – why? Only good at some point?

Now, this may never turn into a song as is, but it might spur an image or an idea when I’m in a particular mood one day.  It becomes a passage in my notebook that can initiate other ideas because there’s a path to follow.

 

Stay Away From Negativity

Seems an odd thing to put into a “7 Tips To Creating New Songs” list, right?

But being around people and conversations that consistently shoot down your idea seedlings, sprouts and buds is not helpful.

One of the most advancing things you can do is stay away from negativity.

And that includes feedback that’s destructive to your confidence!  Especially when your song ideas and songwriting skills are forming.

You’re looking for constructive feedback to help you get better, not negative feedback that kills your confidence and most importantly – doesn’t take the time to help you learn (e.g., individuals rewriting your lines with no explanation of why the line you had didn’t work).

Find individuals, a peer group – your tribe – that encourages you to keep writing (regardless of whether they find merit in your song ideas), and keep pushing you in a positive way to grow and in turn, make your songwriting stronger.

Growth is about watering, feeding, caring for . . . it’s not about putting a match to a forest.

Build a community who truly wants you to be successful and revels in it!

 

Create A Process For Yourself

Notice I said “yourself” and not follow this process!

You know how you work best.  You know what inspires you and helps you get into the songwriting mojo.

And if you don’t, it’s simple enough to solve:

  • Pick up the last song you wrote
  • Jot down how you started it
    • Was it from your notebook, talking with friends, you were given a prompt, you used a worksheet (originally my process starting out), etc.
  • Write down what you did next
    • Did you simply let it percolate, did you write a quick chorus, etc.
  • Now go back to two other songs and do the same thing
  • What are the commonalities?
  • Jot down what seems to be an emerging workflow or process for you

I’m a dual-right/left brainer, so tend to rely on a bit of structure to my writing process, but having a background as a poet and marketer, I have the “artist” element going as well.

To create some writing structure for myself around my larger songwriting goals, I use self-imposed deadlines.

What's My Process?
  • I write on the weekend and the goal is getting down the page with a “song” as my deliverable.
    • I pick one day and give myself two hours in the morning (my “muse” time) to “get down the page”.
    • I don’t edit heavily, I leave blanks or rhyme words circled if they need to be changed, but I don’t stop to rewrite for the most part.  Goal = Get Down The Page
    • The songs aren’t always good, but that’s OK! By getting it down, I’ve got something to edit.
    •  I use my “non-muse” time (afternoon for me) to do edits.
  • I rewrite and revise at least one song in the car on my morning and evening commute throughout the week.  A commute is perfect for “noodling” time, and it keeps songwriting in my day.  Rather than be angry with the pace of traffic, make use of the time and love that you have it!
  • During edit time (not muse time) on a weekend afternoon, I sometimes use the outline worksheet, or the self critique worksheet if I’m stuck on a song.  Worksheets give me ways to objectively work through what’s going on in a song and finding solutions.
  • Polishing edits:
    • I love unusual rhymes, unique rhyme patterns and, so I’ll use the family rhymes grid to see if I can up the lyric a bit with better rhymes and rhyme scheme.
    • I keep the family rhymes grid written in the front of each of my notebooks, have it on the inside cover of my rhyming dictionary and put it on the back of bookmarks to stuff into any writing binder or folio I have and use for writing.
    • I check my nouns and verbs.  I circle my verbs first.  Could I use a better verb or create better Verb Power – one that fits the spirit of the song better.  Same for nouns.

 

Let Ideas Flow

Don’t wait for a co-write or a formal reason to create lyrics.

Don’t judge your ideas or random thoughts and shut them down.

Don’t allow others to do it either.

If you’re having trouble finding “ideas”, here are some places to get song starters and things to incorporate into your writing flow:

  • Keep a small notebook or a separate app for songwriting on your phone.

I use Evernote and and keep my day-job notes on something else.  No co-mingling for me. I don’t even look at work material (emails, calls, etc.) when I’m writing. It kills my flow!

  • Pay attention to the intros, stories and lyrics when you’re at a live music event.

The banter between songs, especially at songwriter rounds, can generate some interesting ideas.

  • The standards work too:

Books, movies, quotes posted by friends, billboards (my Texas Honey song came from a billboard), other songs and what they didn’t say or how the idea might have a different twist, t-shirt/hat slogans, signs at businesses, overheard conversations, etc.

  • Use prompts to find new ways of looking at common things

11 Things Prompt and the 11 More Things Prompt or the 44 Things list on Evernote

 

Make Yourself Feel Productive And Stay Positive

 

1  My Notebook

When I get what seems like a verse, chorus or bridge, I use the left hand page of my notebook to start a song.  Nothing else goes on that page.  This is a great way to encourage yourself to either write another draft or create a new lyric.

 

2  Folders & Song Parts

In addition to my notebook, I also keep a folder of ideas and starters that may have originally begun as something else.  I don’t throw new songs away or dump them into a file I’ll never look at (yes – I print everything).  Seeing them is a way of starting for me.

If a song isn’t working, I put it into a “with potential” folder.  If the song itself is not emotionally calling to me, I put it into a “parts” folder and highlight the pieces that are cool lines or – parts!

I call these “parts songs” since I’ll be reusing some of the parts. Sort of like owning a ’79 Ford Pinto Station Wagon, and then having one around for spare parts!

 

3  No Bad Songs!

I don’t tell myself a new song is a bad song!

I don’t vocalize things like: I’ll never get it written, what was I thinking even starting it, geez I can’t write – why am I even trying to do this . . . you know . . . those internal voices that show up.

Stay positive and create a positive baseline for songwriting.

For example, when doing the 2 hour exercise. The goal is to get down the page. that’s it – not “are these new songs Grammy winners”!

2 Hour Drill Goal
Do I have a structure and song idea completed within the timeframe?

To help guide the drill, you can give yourself a little push, like trying something you’ve struggled with in the past.  For example, start a song with a simile and then use a simile in the chorus like Travis Meadows’ “Hungry“.

The take away here is: don’t judge whether your new songs good or not.  If you got down the page, you’ve met the goal!

Remember – precious stones aren’t pulled from the ground looking like they do on a ring or a pendant.  Mining them is the first achievement.  Polishing and cutting the final part of the process.

Are there songs written in 20 minutes in one final version. Sure – but they’re rare and they usually come after a hundred or so that didn’t.  Do the work and one will show up for you!

 

Find Ways To Celebrate Your New Songs - AKA Successes

Coming from a corporate environment, I’ve always found this one to be particularly important to keeping the train moving down the track in a positive, productive way.  Your team needs to stay inspired and feel like what they’re doing matters.

It’s no different for a songwriter. The challenge, however, is that you’re often by yourself.  Yes, you may have a tribe, but they’re busy too!

You have to find small ways to celebrate your successes to stay motivated.

And when I say successes – I mean a personal achievement against your goals.

I can’t stress this enough:

Don’t use someone else’s view
of what your success should look like.

Write down your goals.  Pursue your goals in your timeframe.  When you complete one, find a tangible way to celebrate.

It can be something as simple as sending an mp3 of any new songs to a friend who you’ve agreed is simply going to listen and say what a great job you’ve done and give you positive feedback on something in the song.

I do this for some folks who are beginning songwriters.  They need encouragement to write the next song. Writing one – especially when they’ve never written a thing – is HUGE!

And that’s OK by the way!  Not everything requires a “here’s what you did wrong” feedback session!

Don’t minimize your wins by using other people’s definition!

 

The Printable Recap

 

1  Always Be Writing Something Down

 

2  When The Muse Shows Up – Stop And Capture With Context

 

3  Stay Away From Negativity

 

4  Create & Follow A Process For Yourself

 

5  Let Ideas Flow – Don’t Judge Them Early

 

6  Make Yourself Feel Productive And Stay Positive!

 

7  Find Ways To Celebrate Your Successes

 







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