Songwriting Help – Some Ways To Improve Your Overall Songwriting Ability

lifesaver

Here are some ideas I’ve picked up lately on how you can improve your overall songwriting ability.

It’s amazing how the smallest changes to your routine can make the biggest differences

1. Listen To Music

It sounds simple enough but by immersing yourself in the music of others you’re allowing the music to flow through you and the stuff that you really like will unconsciously latch onto your psyche and come out in your own songwriting later on.

2. Don’t Listen To Music

The other side of the coin… There will be times where silence, not music is needed to soothe the soul and when these moments happen immerse yourself in the silence. This is an opportunity for your subconscious to process information or for you to meditate. Either way, silence is sometimes a great way to invite the muse into your world

3. Keep A Digital Recorder With You

Whether this be your smartphone or something purpose built, always get into the habit of being ready to record anything that pops into your head while you go about your daily business because you never know where your next songwriting idea will come from.

4. Watch A Movie/TV With The Sound Off

It’s amazing what you pick up when your senses are less distracted. Watching a movie or the TV with the sound off and a notepad at the ready allows your imagination to fill in the gaps.

I also use it as an opportunity to practise some guitar at the same time. This multitasking can muck around with your brain al little bit but persist with it and you’ll find that the results are worth the effort.

5. Jam With Other Songwriters/Musicians

Always look for an opportunity to get together with other people and just jam for jamming sake. You don’t necessarily have to have a formal agenda attached to it.

Jamming with others allows you to be exposed to other influences plus it keeps your improvisational skills in check and who knows, you might stumble onto a songwriting idea worth exploring.

6. Find Some Songwriting/Musical Allies

Having some songwriting/musical allies in your corner will go a long way to sustaining your motivation. No matter where they come from (friends, family, mentors) the most important thing about these allies is that they are able to provide you constructive feedback without being either too patronising or fake in their praise.

7. Read Books, Poems And Stories

If listening to music infuses musical ideas into your songwriting then it would make sense to say that reading books would infuse lyrical ideas in the same way. By reading the words of others and utilising your imagination filtered through your own experiences, you’ll be putting a new spin on what you read and who knows… A song might come from that.

8. Challenge Yourself To Write Something Every Day

It’s all about creating discipline in your songwriting practise. I’m not saying that you necessarily write a song every day but to really get your songwriting process flowing you need to write at least something every day.

A list of possible song titles, a verse/chorus, a blog post, a poem, some free writing. Even if it’s just a few lines, anything will do.

Do you have some favourite things you like to do to keep the songwriting fires burning? Let me know and I might write a post about it.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

How Keeping A Journal Helps My Songwriting Process

writing

Do you keep a journal? If not, you should.

For me, keeping a journal is one of the best ways to keep my songwriting process in check and flowing with creativity.

Keeping a journal means many things to many people.

It can be a detailed snapshot of daily life as portrayed in the film “Bridget Jones’ Diary” or, it can be more of a stream of consciousness concept as mentioned in Julia Cameron’s groundbreaking book on the creative process called “The Artist’s Way.”

For me, I think the stream of consciousness idea is a much more effective way of gathering songwriting ideas. Just being able to empty my brain of all its information accumulated throughout the day onto a blank piece of paper is, really beneficial.

I look at my journal as a loyal friend who’s always there to listen to my problems and share in my hopes, dreams, questions, thoughts, feelings and aspirations.

I really find the physical act of writing down whatever’s on my mind a very cathartic experience.

The more I write, the more a weight lifts off my shoulders. The more I clear my mind of its trivial clutter the more room I have for all the good songwriting stuff.

Writing in my journal every day has enabled me to get to know myself a whole lot better. Now here’s where I’ve found the real benefits to my songwriting come into play.

I’m always amazed by the sheer volume of information I accumulate after I start journalling. It constantly shows that I do actually have something to write about.

Now, after about four to six weeks of journalling I start re-reading my entries. It’s then that I start getting some flashes of inspiration here and there.

These flashes are the beginnings of new songs.

The longer I read my journal entries the initial flashes of inspiration I experience at the beginning start turning into songwriting ideas that pop up from the page and grab me by the scruff of my neck.

I know this happens because I would hear myself thinking “wow, that would make a great song title” or “wow, I really like that line.”

It’s at this time my highlighting pen becomes my best friend. I start highlighting all the good stuff

I’ve been a regular journal writer for many years and the inspiration to keep a journal waxes and wanes but my re-reading process has always been the same.

After a few weeks of journalling I re-read my entries and furiously highlight all of the potential songwriting ideas and then work on them at a later date.

I’m constantly amazed at how easily a song manifests itself to me by doing this technique. It’s really wonderful what you come up with when you just allow yourself to write.

If you’re already writing a journal then keep at it but if you are thinking of giving journalling a go just do it. Start it today and I promise you, you’ll not regret it one little bit.

Until next time, happy (journal) writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Using Peak Hour Traffic To Your Songwriting Advantage

traffic

How about this for a songwriting exercise!

The next time you find yourself stuck in peak hour traffic, instead of feeling frustrated, stressed and angry about the situation, use the time at hand to manifest songwriting ideas in your head.

I do this all the time and some of my best songwriting ideas come from utilising my downtime effectively. It is a much better use of your time and energy than stressing out over events that you have no control over.

I would use the scenery around me as reference points to get my creative juices flowing. Some general things to focus on would be…

  • The weather – How does it make me feel?
  • People in cars – What were they thinking?
  • Buildings – Any landmarks nearby?
  • How am I feeling right now?
  • What am I doing this weekend?
  • What did I do last weekend?

In theory, once I’ve developed something I’m happy to record, I just use the voice recorder function on my iPhone to put down the songwriting idea for future reference.

Of course I don’t use my phone while I’m driving.

You could use this concept in any situation where you find yourself waiting for something. Examples that come to mind would include:

  • Bank queues
  • Train crossings
  • Doctors surgery
  • Public transport

If you any other suggestions? Let me know, I’d love to hear them.

Imagine what would happen if every songwriter used these particular times to their advantage rather than to their detriment?

There would be hardly any road rage, less stress and we would be more tolerant, patient and almost looking forward to these occasions just so we can give ourselves some time to spend with the muse.

We all have the time to write. We just have to be creative with how we find it.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

How To Use A Thesaurus To Conquer Songwriters Block

words

I believe that as songwriters we need to do whatever it takes to get our songwriting ideas out of our heads, onto paper and out into the world for everyone to hear.

I started All About Songwriting to document the different songwriting tips and techniques that I’ve picked up along the way.

An example of some quality information that I found online is this article by Orlando Gutierrez from songwriteradvisor.com, detailing the way he uses a thesaurus to help him write songs.

The article is called “Songwriting Help For Songwriters’ Block”. I hope you get as much out of it as I did.


Songwriting Help For Songwriters’ Block
By Orlando Gutierrez

Few songwriters use thesauruses during the songwriting process, thinking it’s either a form of cheating, it ruins their natural creativity making lyrics sound forced, or simply because they don’t own a copy of one!

But a thesaurus offers the most songwriting help when it comes to songwriters block and there are actually several techniques on how to use it.

First, I assure you it’s not a form of cheating and furthermore, when used properly, a handful of related words fished from a thesaurus for a given theme can open your mind up to possibilities you would never think of on your own.

Guess what happens after that? Yep, your natural creativity follows, springing ideas from each useful word you can find.

Plain lines become original and interesting, small ideas turn into larger ones with perhaps alternate story lines or feelings for your song themes, and you ultimately become more and more creative on your own as you write each song.

I call that totally original with a helpful push!

By using a thesaurus correctly, you can actually get rid of writers block. Understand, however, that you’re going to have better songwriting sessions than others, but you will certainly not fall into writers block!

Next time you proclaim, “Help, I’ve got songwriters block. I need some songwriting help,” don’t feel so frustrated. We’ve all been there and share your pain.

Use this awesome “use-a-thesaurus-to-get-rid-of-writers-block” tip to get you started on the right track, and you’ll be on your way to getting rid of songwriters block forever:

1. Pick a theme for your song. (i.e., let’s say your song theme is something plain like, “I feel so alive because I’m in love with this person”).

2. Pick an interesting or even bland word from your song theme (i.e., the words feel, alive, and love stand out, so we’ll pick the most interesting one first- “alive”). Don’t worry if the original word is bland.

One average word brings others to life!

3. Look in your physical copy of your thesaurus or use an online thesaurus such as Rhymezone, and find related words to the word “alive” while thinking of your theme.

These are the related words I found in Rhymezone:

  • aware
  • awake
  • vital
  • give
  • exist
  • breathing
  • life
  • remember

4. Now write down these words in a single column on the left side of a paper.

5. Repeat the process with every single related word retrieved from the word “alive”, starting with “aware”, keep building your word list , and keep writing each word until you have two to four columns.

6. Now you have a worksheet to pick words from, which will naturally spring ideas as they relate to your song theme!

As an example let’s review the original words we found on Rhymezone from the word “alive”: aware, awake, vital, give, exist, breathing, life, remember.

Here are four original, interesting lines quickly sprung from this process:

  • I keep staying awake
  • Too aware of my breathing
  • My pulse is amplifying
  • Everything I’m feeling

It took less than one minute. These lines are definitely keepers and can definitely be the start of a solid song. There are some added words not on the list (last two lines), but that’s the whole idea!

These words naturally came to me by using the other words. Mr. Thesaurus once again to the rescue!


About The Author

Orlando Gutierrez is a former Warner/Chappell Staff songwriter who dedicates most of his time to his website, www.songwriteradvisor.com, in order to provide innovative songwriting tips and techniques to give songwriters an edge over the competition in an ever-changing music industry.

Look at the free 7-step songwriting blueprint, and sign up for your free monthly newsletter “Tune Sleuth” today at www.songwriteradvisor.com


I’ve always felt that if used correctly, a thesaurus could be a really powerful songwriting tool but after reading this article I now know that a thesaurus needs to be part of an essential suite of tools you use in your songwriting process.

Just in case you feel a little blocked from time to time.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Any Songwriters Wishing To Collaborate? Let Me Know!

teamwork2

Let me cut to the chase here. I want to work with lyricists, poets, writers and other creative individuals.

Are you out there? If you are, I’d love to talk with you.

I’ve been taking a dip in the collaboration pool for a little while now and I’m loving it.

You see, I’m at the point in my songwriting where I’m very comfortable either writing songs by myself or with others but I still think that collaborating with others is the next step in my development as a songwriter.

I want to be able to shape songs out of different points of view and be challenged by sonically interpreting the experiences of others.

The first of two main challenges I have in my songwriting process at the moment is lyric writing. I’m working on it but I learn so much more from working with other lyricists.

This admission may seem strange coming from someone like me who has written a lot about lyric writing and song idea gathering tips in earlier posts but I do try to practise what I preach.

I do write down the phrases I hear in conversation, I record all of my musical and lyrical ideas and I do make copious lists of possible song titles but my inner critic still has a field day every time I try to put lyrics down onto paper.

You see, my inner critic is a very persuasive and persistent entity and quite frankly, I’m becoming snowed under with all of my half finished songwriting ideas

I’m hoping that collaborating with other (song) writers will enable me to learn from them (and them from me) plus we’ll finish a few songs along the way.

This is especially pertinent with the 50/90 Songwriting Challenge just around the corner

So, are there any writers that want to collaborate with me? If so, let me know and lets start making beautiful music together.

I’ll even showcase our songs on All About Songwriting.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting Tip – Using Cliches To Your Songwriting Advantage

redguitar

There are many songwriting articles around telling us how bad cliches are for songwriting and that they should be eliminated from your life but for me, the question still remains…

“Is it possible to completely eradicate cliches from your songwriting?”

Well, I believe that you can’t completely eradicate cliches but you can look at them from another perspective. You can look at them as a possible songwriting tool.

Wikipedia defines a cliche as “…an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has become overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, even to the point of being trite or irritating…” and while I was doing some research for this post I came across a website called ClicheSite and I was really surprised with what I found.

I discovered how deep rooted cliches are in our everyday language and how there were some cliches listed on the site that I thought weren’t cliches.

Now I hear you asking… “how can ClicheSite help me with my songwriting?”

Well, the beauty ClicheSite is that it contains a very concise list of phrases that have become cliches over time plus, it also gives you the place of origin and the meaning behind the cliche which can give you ideas on how perhaps rephrase the cliche into something more original.

You see, by knowing the meaning behind the cliche you can then internalise that into your own experience and come up with something that comes from you and you only.

A good example of rephrasing a cliche to a songs advantage is the Toni Braxton song “Un-Break My Heart” (written by Dianne Warren) which is a rephrasing of “Break My Heart” a well worn cliche in its own right.

Toni Braxton – Un-Break My Heart

Here’s how you can rephrase a cliche to your advantage. Pick a cliche and play around with the phrase and the meaning behind it.

Write the cliche down on a piece of paper and try to match an event in your life that fits in with the meaning of it. By personalising the cliche you are changing its meaning to you from a global one to a unique one.

From there, you can start brainstorming your own phrases, lines and ideas from the rephrased cliche but these will be borne from your own experiences and knowledge. I believe that this is how you can use cliches to your songwriting advantage.

Here are some other cliche websites for you to check out:

What are your favourite cliches? I’d love to know what they are as there might be a song lurking underneath it.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

The 50/90 Challenge For 2014 Starts July 4th. Are You In?

5090

Do you reckon you could write 50 Songs In 90 Days?

If you’re an avid online researcher for all things songwriting as I am, you might have come across a wonderful songwriting challenge called FAWM.

It stands for “February Album Writing Month” and the idea is that you write an albums worth of material (14 songs) in the month of February. This equates to writing a song every two days.

FAWM started in 2003 and for the past eleven years it’s successfully inspired songwriters from all walks of life and skill levels to get out of their comfort zones and chase after the muse rather than wait for it to happen.

I’ve participated in FAWM since 2008 and even though I’ve not yet completed the challenge in full, I’ve always learnt a little more about myself and my songwriting process through doing it.

The creators of FAWM have also devised another songwriting challenge called 50/90. That is, writing 50 songs in 90 days starting from July 4th through to October 1st.

According to the 50/90 website the 50 songs in 90 days challenge is for…

“… a group whose purpose is to challenge members to write 50 songs in 90 days. Between July 4 and October 1 of any year, in the company of others, you can engage in some harmless songwriting mayhem. The prize is the pride in writing songs that may never have been written otherwise.”

What a fantastic way to try out all of the different things you’ve picked up from reading this blog.

I’m going for it and so should you.

I registered with the 50/90 site yesterday so all I have to do now is wait for July 4th and start putting what I write about in All About Songwriting into practise.

50/90 is a great way to face your songwriting fears and battle your inner critic head on. Consider registering for the 50/90 challenge.

We can do it together. Let me know if you’re up for the challenge.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Self Doubt And Your Songwriting

doubt

The main thing that destroys the creativity in any songwriter is their own self doubt.

We all have it and we all deal with it in our own individual way.

I find it strange that the things we take for granted were initially invented or created by individuals who were confident, courageous and passionately determined enough to step up to the plate and develop a (sometimes radical) new idea.

Imagine what kind of a world we’d live in if:

  • Albert Einstein believed in his bad school reports and gave up on life?
  • Alexander Graham Bell gave up just before he invented the Telephone?
  • Thomas Edison believed the naysayers and turned off his Light Bulb idea?

The list goes on and on…

As a songwriter, having confidence that whatever you say is worth something is at the very essence of what writing songs is all about.

This is summed up nicely in an article I found by John Cowell who runs a site called Great Songwriting called “Beginner Songwriting 12 Points On Your Self-Doubt”

John’s piece is a simple and straight-forward article on where self doubt comes from and how you can deal with it. I also like it because it puts forward encouragement to the beginning songwriter.

Here it is for your reading enjoyment…


Beginner Songwriting 12 Points On Your Self-Doubt
By John Cowell

1. Beginner songwriting self-doubt is normal. Here’s how to fix self doubt in songwriting by learning to neutralize doubt because it’s a logical part of songwriting.

2. You’re not alone because most songwriters have self-doubt. It’s absolutely ok, the trick is writing when doubt makes it difficult to write. It’s easy to feel tied down with everyday stresses that stop you from finishing a great song.

3. However, without doubt, how would you have a healthy fear of failing? A manageable fear of not producing strong songs is important as you can learn to use it to support your writing. Use it to force yourself to dig deeper to write better songs.

4. Songwriters face a lot or rejection from many people. When you respect a person because you value their views, they hold more weight over you than others.

5. What if they think you can’t do it, can’t write a strong song? We often measure ourselves based on what we believe others think of us.

6. Nothing kills inspiration and songs faster than your own internal words that sensor what you are writing. We all have this worry that comes from the fear of failing.

7. But the good news is maybe you are a brilliant and wonderful songwriter. How will you ever find out if you don’t write and rewrite?

8. Doubt of your ability creeps in when you’ve been reminded of failed efforts or expectations. But the greatest failure of all is not realizing your potential.

9. Sometimes it doesn’t seem to make sense. All these people may love and respect you, but you can still doubt yourself. You can create failure in your mind.

10. Creativity is not limited to a few who express their experiences in commercially successful songs. We are all creative. Visualize yourself reaching what you want and the satisfaction you will experience. In other words, see yourself performing well.

11. There is a great deal of room for unique points of view and in fact people are just waiting to hear a great song that touches them. We all have our moments of self-doubt, often when we see someone else’s great success.

12. There’s room in beginner songwriting to learn to create great songs. And it can be learned. The people who are successful are the proof. But you must believe in yourself. I have an excellent example of a Hall Of Fame songwriter expressing normal self doubt.


About The Author

John Cowell is self proclaimed songwriting addict. His fresh approach to songwriting tips and advice will have you saying “Ah-Ha” over and over again.

To get simple and terrific ideas on how to write great songs visit his website http://www.greatsongwriting.com


I remember starting out on my songwriting journey all those years ago.

I was full of passion and enthusiasm but not much knowledge. Once I started getting some songwriting knowledge, experience and musical theory under my belt I started developing this thing called self doubt.

I started to compare myself to others and, at the same time my inner critic started to plant seeds of doubt in my head.

Eventually I got over myself and now the willingness to write songs comes easily to me however, in getting there I went through a lot of pain.

I’m sure most songwriters experience this at least once in their lives. If you’ve had a similar experience let me know. I’d love to hear about it.

Until next time, happy writing

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting Process – Bruce Mau’s “An Incomplete Manifesto For Growth”

seedling

Below is the complete version of “An Incomplete Manifesto For Growth” as mentioned in my last blog post “Some Creative Suggestions For Your Songwriting.”

This manifesto was conceived in 1998 by Bruce Mau, the creative director of Bruce Mau Design. The purpose of the manifesto is explained on his website in the following way:

“Written in 1998, the Incomplete Manifesto is an articulation of statements exemplifying Bruce Mau’s beliefs, strategies and motivations. Collectively, they are how we approach every project.”

From what I have seen, Bruce Mau and his team certainly know what they’re talking about and from reading his manifesto below I can see how the creative process of design and writing songs can come from exactly the same place.

The muse is a multi-talented entity indeed…


An Incomplete Manifesto For Growth
By Bruce Mau

1. Allow events to change you.
You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it.

The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.

2. Forget about good.
Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good.

Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.

3. Process is more important than outcome.
When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.

4. Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child).
Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.

5. Go deep.
The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.

6. Capture accidents.
The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.

7. Study.
A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.

8. Drift.
Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.

9. Begin anywhere.
John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.

10. Everyone is a leader.
Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.

11. Harvest ideas.
Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.

12. Keep moving.
The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.

13. Slow down.
Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.

14. Don’t be cool.
Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.

15. Ask stupid questions.
Growth is fueled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.

16. Collaborate.
The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.

17. ____________________.
Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others.

18. Stay up late.
Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world.

19. Work the metaphor.
Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.

20. Be careful to take risks.
Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.

21. Repeat yourself.
If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it again.

22. Make your own tools.
Hybridize your tools in order to build unique things. Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.

23. Stand on someone’s shoulders.
You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.

24. Avoid software.
The problem with software is that everyone has it.

25. Don’t clean your desk.
You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.

26. Don’t enter awards competitions.
Just don’t. It’s not good for you.

27. Read only left-hand pages.
Marshall McLuhan did this. By decreasing the amount of information, we leave room for what he called our “noodle.”

28. Make new words.
Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.

29. Think with your mind.
Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.

30. Organization = Liberty.
Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget.

The myth of a split between “creatives” and “suits” is what Leonard Cohen calls a ‘charming artifact of the past.’

31. Don’t borrow money.
Once again, Frank Gehry’s advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.

32. Listen carefully.
Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.

33. Take field trips.
The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic–simulated environment.

34. Make mistakes faster.
This isn’t my idea – I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.

35. Imitate.
Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You’ll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable. We have only to look to Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel Duchamp’s large glass to see how rich, discredited, and underused imitation is as a technique.

36. Scat.
When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else … but not words.

37. Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.

38. Explore the other edge.
Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using old-tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.

39. Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms.
Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces – what Dr. Seuss calls “the waiting place.”

Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference – the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals — but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.

40. Avoid fields.
Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.

41. Laugh.
People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I’ve become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing ourselves.

42. Remember.
Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect.

Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself.

43. Power to the people.
Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can’t be free agents if we’re not free.


Wow!

Even though Bruce Mau and his team approach every new design project using these strategies and philosophies, I truly believe that the process of songwriting (indeed every creative endeavour) can be looked at in the very same way.

I don’t know about you but right now, I’m feeling truly inspired. Are you? Which points in the manifesto resonate with you? Let me know about it.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Some Creative Suggestions For Your Songwriting

suggestionbox

One of my favourite songwriting websites that I visit regularly is called TAXI.

I really like the articles and helpful tips that they provide on the site as well as the songwriting A&R service that they’re so well known for.

Recently I came across an article by a songwriter named Michael Anderson called “Creative Suggestions”

The article is essentially a huge list of wisdom to help expand your songwriting process and at the same time, enrich you as a songwriter which is just the very thing that I’m trying to achieve with All About Songwriting.

I’ve included the article below for your enjoyment…


Creative Suggestions
By Michael Anderson

(Originally Published in TAXI – July 2008)

One of the great things I have found about teaching is how much you end up learning. The best way to learn about something is to help someone else do it.

As part of my teaching, recently I interviewed a guest, Paula McMath, who came in with amazing material prepared for the class.

I am going to share excerpts of one section here — it comes form a handout she gave the class called “An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth.”

I don’t know where it came from, or who wrote it — and I am editing it for focus and length here. If you are so motivated, I am sure you can find the whole thing on the Internet somewhere.

So here are some suggestions for your process in writing:

  • Allow events to change you. You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it.
  • The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.
  • Forget about good. Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on.
  • Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.
  • Process is more important than outcome. When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been.
  • Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child). Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, trials, and errors.
  • Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.
  • Capture accidents. The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question.
  • Study. A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study.
  • Drift. Allow yourself to wander aimlessly Postpone criticism.
  • Begin anywhere. John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice – begin anywhere.
  • Everyone is a leader. Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.
  • Harvest ideas – edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.
  • Keep moving. The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.
  • Slow down. Desynchronise from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.
  • Don’t be cool. Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.
  • Ask stupid questions. Growth is fueled by desire and innocence.
  • Collaborate. The space between people working together is filled with strife, friction, exhilaration, delight, and creative potential.
  • Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others.
  • Stay up late. Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world.
  • Work the metaphor. Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.
  • Be careful to take risks. Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.
  • Make your own tools. Hybridise your tools in order to build unique things.
  • Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.
  • Stand on someone’s shoulders. You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.
  • Avoid software. The problem with software is that everyone has it.
  • Don’t clean your desk. You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.
  • Don’t enter awards competitions. Just don’t. It’s not good for you.
  • Make new words. Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.
  • Think with your mind. Forget technology. Creativity is not device dependent.
  • Organization = Liberty. Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise.
  • Don’t borrow money. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.
  • Listen carefully. Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.
  • Take field trips. The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic-simulated environment.
  • Make mistakes faster.
  • Imitate. Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You’ll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable.
  • Scat. When you forget the words, do what Ella did—make up something else.
  • Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.

Excerpted from Michael Anderson’s Little Black Book of Songwriting available at: www.michaelanderson.com

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WOW! What an amazing list of creative suggestions to think about.

Reading this article reaffirms my thoughts, feelings and theories of the importance of having a songwriting process. I’m certainly going to look up “An Incomplete Manifesto For Growth” and really get my head around what it means.

Incidentally, what points took your fancy? Let me know what you think.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting