As I study successful songs and songwriters, I have come across a very common theme. It is something of a secret hidden in plain sight. It is like the magic key to becoming a great songwriter. The best part is that we all have it at our disposal.
What is it?
The key to becoming a great songwriter is to WRITE SONGS! Ok, so that seems too simple, right? Well, yes, and no. Songwriters like Diane Warren and Desmond Child have said many times that their key to success has been to write LOTS of songs. Diane has said that when she was growing up, she wrote 1 to 3 songs….EVERYDAY! No wonder she can turn out magic. Desmond has said the same things, write and write and don’t be afraid to try new things. Staff songwriters at publishers do it all the time, too. They have to. It is their job.
So what am I trying to say….Well, if you wanted to become a great painter, you would need to paint everyday and learn the craft and how to use the brushes and tools. You would need to know how the paint reacts to the canvas, etc. Songwriting is the same way. If you do not practice writing on a regular basis, you never really learn how to do it great.
So your goal should be to do some songwriting everyday. You won’t realize how much it is helping you, at first. Heck, you may not even notice it. Who will start noticing are the people listening to your songs. The best part is that you don’t have to write a full song every day. You can break it down into little chunks and maybe set aside 20 minutes each day to work on something. After a few days you will have more inspiration, experience and will be closer to a finished song.
Here is a possible Week worth of 20 minute Songwriting Exercises:
MONDAY: Skim magazines looking for Titles and Story Ideas
TUESDAY: Pick your favorite Title from Monday and write out 3 different story lines that may possibly work for the title
WEDNESDAY: Write out the story line for your song. Decide what each song section will say. Set it up so the story builds and gains emotional weight as the song progresses.
THURSDAY: Write the 1st verse – Stick with mostly descriptive, external, sense words. Give us the Who, When and Where of the song.
FRIDAY: Write the Chorus – - This is the emotional WHY of the song. This is what the song is all about
SATURDAY: Write the Second Verse, continue following your storyline from Wednesday
SUNDAY: Write the Bridge of the song. This section is the ‘Where do we go from here?’ ‘How do we get out of here?’ - Once you have this Bridge, you really have everything for a full song. Verse, Chorus, 2nd Verse, Chorus and Bridge. FUN!!
See in just a few minutes a day you could complete a full song in a week! I bet that is more songwriting than many weeks for most of us. And, the best part is that it becomes hard to stop at just 20 minutes everyday….Once inspiration strikes you may find yourself on a roll!