Songwriting 101

When it comes to writing a song or coming up with song ideas, I find that an idea can come to me just about anywhere, anytime.  It doesn’t always happen when I’m sitting down with my guitar, but rather more times than not, song ideas come to me when it’s 2am and I’m fast asleep, or I’m driving in my car, or I’m taking a walk.  What I love about my writing process is that I’m never not in songwriting mode.  That’s to say, I’m not writing millions of songs every day or anything, but I’m always on the lookout for ideas of inspiration.  I may be driving somewhere and a melody just comes to me.  I then have to keep humming the melody to myself over and over until I get to a destination that allows me to quickly record it, so I can actually remember the melody later.  A melody not captured in the moment is sometimes lost forever, so I always try really hard to record it either into my computer or some other kind of recording device.  Doesn’t have to be fancy, but unless I do it right then and there, the inspiration may never come back to me exactly the same way again.  The same goes for lyrics.  I often find myself driving down the road and a line or two of lyrics will pop into my head.  I try to, as safely as possible, jot down those ideas when they come, because I may have a hard time remembering exactly how they went.  Regardless if they ever end up getting used in a song exactly as is, those organic ideas can often lead to many more ideas that eventually lead to a song.  No song has been created exactly the same way, and that’s what I love about it.

I keep a journal of song ideas and lyrics and I’m constantly jotting down a few lines here and there.  I rarely will have a whole song spill out all at once, it’s more like an ongoing process of compiling ideas and later sitting down and expanding on those ideas.  When I have some time set aside to write, I will go back through my journal and see what ideas jump out at me, or spark the most inspiration.  Without an inspired idea I’m hopeless.  I can come up with melodies much easier than writing down meaningful coherent lyrics.  That part of songwriting is much harder for me.  I don’t doubt the right words are in there somewhere, it’s just being patient enough with myself to not get frustrated before the lyrics have a chance to come out.  That’s an area I’m working on.  I think that’s why I like co-writing so much.  The process of co-writing is a bit different, and I’ll share more about that another time.

No matter how the creative process for a song comes about, I am surprised and joyously amazed with every song’s completion.  It is such an amazing feeling to sit back and play a song all the way through for the first time.  I usually want to immediatly share it with anyone who will listen (which is usually as many family members as I can wrangle!).  I liken it to having a baby and wanting everyone else to see how beautiful and amazing it is.  That may sound a little funny, but my songs really do feel like my babies in a way.  I hope they all grow up and live long happy lives, and bless as many along the way as possible!

“To find an answer or share a dream, like a friend it’s where I turn.  The past has been my teacher, while the future’s left to learn.  And there’ll be a song in the moment, written just for me…” -from “Song in the Moment

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