GIVE YOURSELF A TIME AND PLACE TO BE A SONGWRITER
PLACE: You don’t need a studio or even an entire room, but you do need somewhere you can sit down at a keyboard or with your guitar or laptop to work out ideas and make rough recordings as you go. Sure, you can get an idea anywhere, at any time, but developing that idea into a song structure, then rewriting to make it compelling for listeners, takes focus and energy. Give yourself a space – even a small one – that supports your effort.
TIME: We all have this fantasy of long, uninterrupted hours spent writing our songs. But not only are large chunks of time hard to come by, this might not even be such a good idea. Truth is, if you spend four or five hours working on a song, you’re likely to lose touch with your original inspiration and emotion. Ideas you loved when you started become boring, causing you to make changes just to stay interested. Stop! Record a rough of your latest idea and take a break. Here are some suggestions:
• Work in short bursts of 45 minutes to an hour.
• Record your ideas every 15 minutes or so.
• Take plenty of breaks. Walk around the block. Wash dishes. Whatever!
• Come back to where you left off. Listen with fresh ears.
• If you don’t like where you ended up, hit the UNDO button.
If you have a full-time job or you’re carrying a full class load at school, try laying down some quick ideas in 10 to 15 minutes before you go to work or class, then continue after you get home. It will give you something to look forward to and integrate your songwriting into your everyday schedule.
Cool hint from Robin Frederick. Sign up for her newsletter/blog at www.robinfrederick.com
Robin is the author of Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting and Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film and TV, among other works.