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Month: December 2019 (Page 1 of 2)

Happy New Year Everybody. 2020 Here We Come

Just wanted to wish everyone a very happy new year and it’s my hope that 2020 will be a wonderfully productive, creative and musical year for all.

Personally, I will make sure that 2020 will be a great year for songwriting tips through this blog. I hope that you can come along for the ride with me.

If there’s anything you’d like me to cover on All About Songwriting please let me know.

However, until next decade… Keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Reading The Newspaper For Songwriting Ideas

If writing lyrics is all about manipulating words onto paper, then to be a good lyricist you would need to develop a very healthy respect for the English language and how it can be put together to tell a story, describe a scene or, to put across a point of view.

It would also be handy to become very mindful of what you read, speak, see and hear around you. This would seem like an easy task as words are all around us yet we don’t really see them do we?

Far too often, we take words for granted.

Actively seeking out words does not mean getting out the dictionary and reading it from cover to cover but it does mean increasing the amount of reading that you currently do now.

If you’re like me, you’d be saying to yourself that you have no time to read. My answer to that excuse is “who says you don’t have time?”

As songwriters, we can’t afford not to have the time to read. We need to slow our lives down a bit so we can pick up on what is happening around us. We might just miss out on a songwriting idea if we don’t.

One of the ways that you can increase the amount of reading with very little effort on your part, is to start having your local newspaper delivered to your door.

At the start of every day, get your newspaper and a cup of your favourite beverage and start reading it, taking note of what you read and the pictures that you see. What you’re doing is looking for something that captures your attention, something that jumps out at you and compels you to write a song about it.

A headline may make a great title for a song, a quote may make a good line for a chorus and an articles theme may make a great song story but a word of warning here, newspapers are notoriously full of bad news so don’t get sucked in by all of the negativity.

You’re looking for songwriting ideas, not an excuse to feel sad.

If you’re one of those songwriters who only writes when they’re feeling angry or passionate about something, then reading a newspaper every morning will be the equivalent to finding a vein of gold for you.

For the rest of us its a good opportunity to just take some quiet time out, grab a notepad and pen and allow the ideas to enter us from the freshly printed pages of your daily newspaper.

Until next time, keep on writing (and reading),

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

How Keeping A Journal Will Help My Songwriting Process

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

I should know, I used to keep one myself off and on but now that 2020 and a new decade is fast approaching, I think it’s about time I started journaling again.

I want to journal again because I found that it was one of the best ways to keep my songwriting process flowing with boundless creativity.

Now, 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 thing as mentioned in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.

Personally, I prefer the cathartic nature of writing in a stream of consciousness and besides, it tends to be a much more effective way of collecting songwriting ideas. Just being able to empty my brain of all its information accumulated throughout the day onto a blank piece of paper is pure freedom.

I once looked 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.

In 2020, I want to reacquaint myself with that friend again.

Some people I know keep a journal electronically while others are old school and write their journal by hand. I fall into the old school category. I really find the physical act of writing down whatever’s on my mind a liberating experience.

The more I write, the more weight lifts off my shoulders. The more I clear my mind of its trivial clutter, the more room I’ll create for all the new songwriting ideas that I’ll come across along the way.

I know that writing in my journal every day will enable me to get to know myself a whole lot better and to fully examine what I’m doing in and with my life.

From my previous journaling experience, I’ve always been amazed by the sheer volume of information I can accumulate. I was constantly proving to myself every day that I had something to write about.

I know that when I started re-reading my entries after four to six weeks of journaling I started glimpsing some inspirational flashes here and there and of course, 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 attempted to be 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

Songwriting Tips – 10 Of The Best From David Foster

When accepting his BMI Icon award in 2010, songwriter David Foster gave a speech which was more like a ten commandments for all songwriters to live by.

Here are those ten tips in a nutshell:

  • Save your money
  • Don’t get married
  • Learn an instrument
  • Don’t be too precious about your songs
  • Be genuinely happy for someone else’s success
  • Phone people back
  • Give your career everything that you have
  • Be on time
  • Make every creative decision as if you have a million dollars in the bank
  • Save your money

Enjoy 🙂

I especially liked numbers 3, 4 and 9 on the list. Which one(s) resonated with you? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Keeping Your Songwriting Simple – One Song, One Idea

As songwriters we should always be looking for ways to express what’s inside our minds and our hearts plus, what we observe externally from ourselves.

We also have to balance this need to express ourselves with the fact that we also want others to listen to our songs and relate to, embrace and make those songs a part of their lives.

Right?

So, in saying that, why do we then have the tendency to complicate the messages or statements that we’re trying to convey in our songwriting?

It should be obvious to anyone that by making things too complicated in our songs, how should we expect our listeners, our audience to relate to them?

Songs are generally between three to five minutes in length so there’s only a small window of opportunity to create a lasting impression with your listener.

The best thing that you as a songwriter can do is:

Create an environment in which the listener can immediately understand and relate to what you are trying to say.

Use this as your songwriting mantra…

One song, one idea

One song, one story.

One song, one point of view.

One song, one image.

Allow the listener to focus on your song, not be bamboozled by it.

If you try to introduce more than one idea into the song you start creating mixed messages for the listener. The last thing you want to is to confuse your listener into turning off from your song.

We live in a world in which information is instant. People today demand the information that they receive to be concise, to the point and easy to understand.

Songs, as a medium to convey information and concepts are no different.

Hold the listeners hand through your song and take them on the journey.

Once you have established the point/story/message of the song you have a certain amount of time to really explore that with the listener. This is where the fun begins, this is where your creativity as a songwriter comes into play.

The balance between words and rhythm becomes very important here otherwise the song becomes clumsy and hard to understand.

Here is a songwriting tip for you. Go through your songs and for each one, write down all of the points you are trying to make.

Really analyse your songs to see if you are putting too many messages in them.

If for instance you have a song in which there are three distinct message that you are trying to convey, separate the messages and write three songs about each of them.

For me, if there’s a song in which for some reason I can’t finish, it’s normally because I’m trying to say too much in it. Once I strip it back, the path which completes the song magically appears before me.

Lets see if that happens for you. If it does, let me know.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Some Songwriting Resolutions For All Of Us To Consider In 2020

Now that we’re fast approaching the end of 2019, it’s time to really start focussing on your songwriting resolutions and goals for 2020.

I’ve put together a list of possibilities to consider when working out what your songwriting goals are for the new year. I’ll certainly be using this list for my own songwriting too.

They are…


Write more:
Seems pretty obvious doesn’t it? Make the time to write more songs, blog posts, short stories, poems, journal entries even three pages of automatic writing as suggested by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way…

Make part of your daily routine at least 30 minutes to do something remotely writing-centric and the writing habit will become second nature in no time.

Play more:
This could mean play your instrument of choice more or, even an instrument you’re not familiar with. This (playing an unfamiliar instrument) alone leads to an increase in songwriting ideas.

It can also mean play in the child-like creative sense, being open to have some fun explore where a songwriting tangent can take you. It may require you to get your hands dirty to keep your creative mind challenged.

Creativity is supposed to be fun.

Practise more:
A songwriting routine that has an element of disciplined instrument practise or song rehearsal time in it can be very fruitful indeed. There have been many a time where a song rehearsal session turns into a songwriting session thanks to a happy accident.

When this happens run with it until you can’t run no more.

Read more:
To become better at writing lyrics you need to immerse yourself into the written word and let’s be honest… We are all guilty in some way of not reading enough.

Read more books, poetry, stories, whatever you can lay your hands on. Immerse your own imagination into the imagination of another person and see what songs can come out of that combination.

Revise more:
Now is always the perfect time to go through your songwriting ideas archive, your works in progress folder or your pile of old lyrics and revise them with a fresh set of eyes, ears, heart and imagination. Perhaps the passage of time will spark some new songwriting ideas from the old.

Plan more:
Planning and organising your songwriting time and your songwriting space will eventually give you the freedom to create as you’ve eliminated aspects of worry that an unorganised person would have to deal with.

Personally I believe that the planning and organising component of your songwriting process allows all of the other “fun” stuff to flow much more effectively.

Record more:
For me, the last three years have been one of the most productive for me as I had used that time to learn as much as I can about recording my music in my own home recording studio which has allowed me to record my songs and my songwriting ideas in a more professional environment.

Now I’m not saying that you have to go out and spend the money building a home recording studio but having something in place where the recording of a songwriting idea is in easy reach is very important to your overall productivity as a songwriter.

Release more:
Whether it be putting your songs onto a distribution platform like BandCamp or, uploading your songwriting demos to SoundCloud, releasing your music online for others to listen to and comment on is so very important as a songwriter.

We write songs so that can be heard don’t we? Well, put them out there and see what the world has to say about them.

Network more:
Whether you’re a performing songwriter or not, getting yourself out there and networking with other songwriters and other like minded songwriting and music industry folk is essential for your songwriting career.

You can do this with your local songwriting association or, you can join a few of the online songwriting forums or social media groups out there. Introduce yourself, make yourself known and you never know, you might just make some new friends.

Relax more:
Sometimes if you do too much of one thing you might stress yourself out and songwriters block may creep in the picture. Make sure you block out some time to do nothing or, at the very least something not songwriting related. Maybe take some time out to concentrate on your breathing and meditate, go for a walk or, find a nice corner and read a book.

Exercise more:
Healthy body, healthy mind, healthy life… Nothing gets the creative juices flowing more than feeling good about yourself and the world around you. Feeling this way makes you want to put in the work needed to make your songwriting career grow.

Personally, I need to take a leaf out of my own book and exercise more as I know I’m more productive when I do.

Collaborate more:
The natural byproduct of networking more is that you’ll find other songwriters who will want to collaborate with you.

Embrace these collaboration opportunities with open arms and relish in the fact that some different songs than what you’re used to writing will be created from the experience. Two (or more) heads are better than one when it comes to writing songs sometimes.

Listen more:
Probably one of the most important skills that a songwriter must have at their disposal is the ability to “actively listen” to the world around them. I’m not talking about “hearing” the sounds of the world around you. I’m talking about “listening” to the world. There is a huge difference between hearing and listening.

Make 2020 a year of cultivating the habit of listening. When you are still, really listen to the world as if you’re trying to internalise the sounds inside of you.

When in a conversation with someone allow them to fully express what they want to say without interruption. Really listen to what they have to say while they’re talking and don’t succumb to the temptation of thinking what you’re going to say next.

Only by really listening will you fully understand the world in which you write your songs about.


What activity on the list above do you relate to and want to expand on the most in 2020? Is there anything that I have missed out on? If so, let me know so I can write about it in future blog posts.

In the meantime, I want to wish everyone a safe and creatively prosperous 2020. May it be everything that you want it to be and more.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Your Life As One Continuous Songwriting Process

As songwriters, we need to be eternally vigilant to any opportunity that might arise which enables us to replenish our repository of songwriting ideas.

When we talk about a songwriting process though, we generally talk about engaging in a set of activities that is separate to our lives in general. We live our lives and in between that we have to make the time to write songs then, we start living life again.

My question to you is… Why limit your songwriting process only to activities where you have to make time? Why can’t you make your whole life become one continuous songwriting process?

By doing this, you create a day-to-day life/songwriting ideas loop where one activity (songwriting) can exist within another (day-to-day life) at the same time

Think about it for a moment… When we make the most out of our lives, the experiences gained will make great songs but in turn, when we also write songs about what is happening around us it helps us make the most out of our lives.

Looking at our lives as one continuous and never-ending songwriting process forces us to pay closer attention to what we do in and with our lives and be more mindful it.

I think it was Socrates who once said that

“… an unexamined life is a life not worth living.”

There is no reason why you couldn’t find songwriting ideas through the activities that make up your day to day life which will in turn inspire you to find more songwriting ideas.

Imagine your life becoming one big ideas loop. That would be very cool indeed.

This concept would only truly work if first of all, you internalise the habit of being vigilant to any songwriting opportunity that comes along and secondly, to have a means to record the songwriting idea as it happens if it cannot be worked on straight away.

It’s all about being present in the NOW, and with that in mind, I’ve now got a song to write.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Stuck In A Songwriting Rut? Try These Five Things

There are many, many times where I’ve felt less than motivated or inspired to put pen to paper and write a song.

Most of the time, I’m able to get past the lack of motivation and exercise my songwriting muscle however, an article 5 Things To Do When You’re Stuck In A Creative Rut (Or Unmotivated) by Sam Matla on the EDMProd blog really put things into perspective for me.

In the article, Sam explains the phenomenon of a creative rut in this fashion…

You know, when you open up your DAW, you’re excited, ready to start a new track, but for some reason you just can’t get anything down! This often leads to unproductive sessions resulting in more frustration and can even cause a long lasting lack of motivation.

It’s annoying, it sucks, and it’s a nightmare for those on a regular release schedule. And unfortunately it’s almost inevitable.

Been there, done that but the five things that Sam mentions in the article are activities that I can see being really beneficial if I incorporated them into my own songwriting process.

  • Take some time out
  • Collaborate with others
  • Organise and prepare
  • Feed your mind
  • Set goals

These activities may seem like common sense however, if you’re like me, the desperation you feel whilst being in the middle of a creative rut makes it really, really easy for your brain to throw common sense out of the window and replace it with the dysfunctional fog of indecision.

I can really see that taking a deep breath and doing one or more activities from the above list would centre you enough to find your way out of the fog.

What do you do when you find yourself in the middle of a songwriters block? Do any of the above list resonate with you or, do you do your own thing to get yourself back on track?

Check out the original article here and if you want to share any of your songwriters block busting tips, feel free to let me know.

Until next time, just keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting


Original Link: 5 Things to do When You’re Stuck in a Creative Rut (Or Unmotivated)

Nine Ways To Stay Calm When Writing Songs Stresses You Out

We all know that sometimes life, stresses you out for many, many different reasons. This is particularly true when writing songs especially if you’re participating in a demanding songwriting challenge such as FAWM or RPM.

In an article on The Guardian website – Deep Breath, Cup Of Tea, Long Walk: Nine Ways To Stay Calm In A Crisis – Dr Mithu Storoni writes that…

“Your brain records things as you perceive them, not as they actually happen. So if you launch a colossal stress reaction every time someone nudges you on the train, or you read an annoying news headline, or discover you’ve run out of milk, your brain will record your day as having been inordinately stressful when in reality it was quite ordinary. Over time, an overactive emotional brain has trouble bouncing back.”

This means that if you find yourself in the middle of a bout of songwriters block it probably means that you need to let go of some of that built up stress you have inside in which the cause of it could’ve come from anywhere.

The nine ways to stay calm in a crisis mentioned in the article are as follows…

  • Gentle morning exercise
  • Spend time with a friend
  • Start the day outside
  • Remember to breathe
  • Take control
  • Pour a brew
  • Immerse yourself in something else
  • Go for a walk
  • Write it down

The above list seems like common sense when you look at it however, I know from experience that common sense flies out the window once you find yourself in the middle of a stressful event such as songwriters block.

Anyways, check out Deep Breath, Cup Of Tea, Long Walk: Nine Ways To Stay Calm In A Crisis and see if you can answer this question…

“What things do you do to stay calm in a stressful situation?”

Right now, I’m going to get away from the computer and enjoy the rest of the weekend by going for a walk.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting


Original Article: “Deep breath, cup of tea, long walk” nine ways to stay calm in a crisis

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