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Month: May 2020 (Page 1 of 2)

Writing Therapy Songs Is Good For You

When life is getting you down and you have no-one to talk to, how about writing a song about it? I can assure you that it will make you feel so much better.

This is because writing a song about your thoughts and feelings is a wonderful way of expressing what’s happening inside you plus, it’s a great way to get things off your chest.

It’s sad that far too many people in this world never allow themselves the chance to release their bottled up feelings and it’s been proven that carrying around all your sadness and anger will make you sick.

With that in mind, that must mean that songwriters must be the one of the mentally healthiest groups of people in the world 😉

Just remember, not every song that you write has to be performed in the public arena so what have you got to lose? You are allowed to write songs for you and you only. No-one needs to know about them and they can be your own little secret if you wish.

Just as long as you write what is in your head and your heart.

It’s widely recognised that sharing a problem with family and friends is a very healthy thing to do mentally however, writing songs for therapy follows a similar concept but in this instance you’re having the same conversation with yourself.

If you want to share your song with others, that’s fine but it’s not essential.

By putting your problems or emotions into a songwriting context you’re really putting a positive spin on a negative situation.

Writing songs about what your feeling at the time allows you to put things into some sort of logical perspective.

Instead of spending hours telling yourself the same old long protracted story about what’s happening in your life, you condense it all into a four minute song. This requires you to cut to the chase with the issue and by doing that, the problem or emotion is not as intense as was first thought.

What you do with the therapy songs you write is totally up to you however, it’s how these songs help you through the tough times, not what you do with them that’s the important thing to consider here.

Please, don’t be afraid to write about how you feel even if you don’t want to face up to it. This is a great exercise in being really honest with yourself and your feelings.

Do you feel a songwriting therapy session coming on about now? The doctor is now in.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting – A Way To Experience Life

To increase your songwriting ability it’s necessary to increase your life experience, and that means getting out of your comfort zone and embracing what life has to offer you.

Imagine having the confidence to fully experience life with the knowledge that there could be a great song awaiting as a result of the risk being taken. That’s a mighty powerful way of looking at life.

A prime example of a situation that can benefit from this way of thinking is the awkward beginnings of falling in love. So many people don’t take the risk of falling in love for the fear of getting hurt.

My argument is that if you are committed to songwriting as a way to experience life then it is your duty as a songwriter to take the risk and just go with it.

If it works then you have some great songs to write, if it doesn’t work then you still have some great songs to write with perhaps a bit of therapy thrown in for good measure.

With an attitude like that how can you lose?

Going out of your way to fully experience life doesn’t mean having to endure mammoth changes or extreme tragedy. It’s the little things that you can do to break the habits and routines of our lives that make all the difference.

Here are some other examples of little things you can do to get more out of life and therefore get more out of your songwriting.

  • Go see a movie by yourself
  • Take a long walk on the beach
  • Go for a drive
  • Call a friend you haven’t spoken too in ages
  • Strike up a conversation with a complete stranger
  • Catch public transport
  • Go to a cafe and write (or start writing) in your journal
  • Smile at people and watch their reactions
  • Meditate and listen
  • Go skydiving (Optional – I can understand if people find this a little extreme)

Generally, we try so hard to control everything in our life so we don’t experience anything that we would consider as bad. By choosing songwriting as a way to experience life, we can relax and allow our lives to unfold before our eyes, and then write a song about it.

If you look at your life this way you will never have to say “I don’t have anything to write about” ever again.

What do you think about songwriting as a way to experience more out of life?

What aspect of your life can you do different today? How would that change affect you? Can you write a song about it?

Just remember (even if it is for the sake of your songwriting process), don’t ever be afraid to fully experience your life, choose it.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Liberate Yourself From Your Songwriting Fears Today

“To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong” – Joseph Chilton Pierce

Today I want to share with you my personal thoughts on fear in songwriting.

You know, I’ve never heard of anyone dying from writing a song but I know some songwriters that fear their own songwriting like they fear their own death.

I used to feel this type of fear whenever I wrote songs. I feared that my songs were not good enough, I feared that I was not going to be taken seriously as a songwriter.

I wrote my first song at the age of 12, but it took me until I was well into my thirties before I faced my songwriting fears and conquered them.

This fear I had came from the assumption that any song I was writing would automatically fall short of an expectation of what I though the end result of my songwriting session should be.

That expected end result is songwriting perfection.

I felt like any song that fell short of songwriting perfection was a bad song and therefore it’s to be feared and avoided at all costs. I was essentially equating writing a ‘bad’ song to being a bad person.

How silly is that?

If you experience fear in your own songwriting process, here’s a little tip… Relax a little, relieve yourself of any expectation and just write without prejudice.

Conserve your energies for something much more useful and productive (like writing more songs).

Imagine what it would be like to just put down anything that comes into your mind and not feel guilty about whether it’s good or not?

Today, we live in a world that expects instantaneous results. It expects that one plus one will always equal two however, when you write songs, try to cultivate the concept that one plus one equals whatever you want it to be.

When you’re able to grasp that concept, you’re well on your way to songwriting freedom.

Every songwriter has fears. I have fears, you have fears and really when you think about it, fear is a necessary part of life.

Your job, as a songwriter is to look at your songs and dig deep inside yourself to find those spaces where you feel at your most venerable and ask yourself “what am I really scared of?” And write about it

For me, my main fear was of my songs not being liked by others. I thought that if people didn’t like my songs then they didn’t like me as well.

What absolute rubbish!

Don’t paralyse your songwriting by fear. Liberate yourself by taking some sort of action today. Write without prejudice and you’re well on your way to write songs without fear holding you back.

Imagine how that would feel like…

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

What Does Songwriting Mean To You?

Let’s look at the word SONGWRITING for a minute. The dictionary meaning of the word is the “… writing the music and words of songs.”

Now that should give us a clue but I think the definition it goes deep enough. I reckon the meaning of the word SONGWRITING should be something like…

“The process in which a song is created using words and melody”

The word itself is comprised of two words, song and writing. The song part is the end result of a process and the writing part is the process itself.

Get it… Without the writing there is no song.

It seems like a simple concept doesn’t it? But it’s amazing how many songs aren’t written. They are started but never finished.

You see, you can talk all you like about verses, choruses, middle-eights, bridges, pre-choruses, the length of the intro and hooks and so on but without the physical activity of writing the song, all of that theory is meaningless.

Personally, songwriting is much, much more than the song itself. The act of writing a song is a whole process in itself. It’s a discipline, a meditation and for me, a way of life.

Without a songwriting process, a song (being the end result of the process) would not exist at all.

If we, as songwriters didn’t have our own songwriting process, then all of our thoughts, feelings and songwriting ideas will become random, haphazard and lacking in organisation.

How would you be able to maintain a creative and sustainable songwriting environment with all that disorganisation going on?

In future posts I will be writing about how you can create, adopt and manage your own songwriting process and in turn write more songs rather than just waiting for inspiration to come your way. Plus, I’ll be giving you insights as to how I write songs.

What does songwriting and the process involved in writing a song mean to you? Feel free to let me know as we all have something to learn from each other.

Pablo Picasso once said that “… inspiration exists, but it has to find you working” and I think that sums everything I’ve been trying to say in this post nicely.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

The Importance Of Always Recording Your Songwriting Ideas

As a songwriter, there are going to be times in your career where you’ll be so inspired, writing a complete song from start to finish in one go will seem like the easiest thing in the world.

For the rest of the time however, it’ll seem like that all you’re doing is constantly finding that next songwriting idea.

You don’t necessarily need to have a fully set up home recording studio to capture your ideas (although I do suggest you seriously consider moving in that direction) but having access to some sort of basic audio recording device is essential.

Personally, I always like to give the voice recording function on my smartphone a really good workout.

It never ceases to amaze me though, how many songwriters out there are still relying on their memory alone and not recording their songwriting ideas.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from all of my years of writing songs it’s this… When it comes to your song ideas, never, ever trust your memory.

A good songwriting exercise and an example of how I record my ideas is this…

If you’re like me and writing songs on guitar is your thing, I imagine you try to set aside some time each day to pick up the guitar and play whatever comes to mind.

Next time you do this make sure you have some sort of recording device near by ready to go. When a hint of an idea develops simply press record and commit that idea to “tape” for future reference.

Once the idea is recorded you then have the choice of either developing the idea a bit more or, go on to finding where the next song idea will come from.

The beauty about this exercise is that you’re not under any pressure to remember the little snippets of possibility that you’ve seemingly conjured up from nowhere. It’s all down on “tape” ready to be referenced ion the future.

Just remember, the whole purpose of the exercise is to simply record what comes out of you.

Another thing I like to do while noodling on the guitar is make nonsensical sounds and rhythms with my voice at the same time, singing whatever comes into my head. It’s quite okay to babble rubbish into a voice recorder or smartphone and not feel bad about it.

When I’m lyrically noodling, I take particular interest in the melodies and the rhythms I produce at the time. The lyrics can come later.

When doing this exercise, don’t even look at finish a song, just gather ideas, phrases, riffs and melodies and get them recorded in some way. After a while you’ll develop quite a collection of them.

This will become your comprehensive songwriting ideas archive.

Be warned though, your inner critic is going to have a wonderful time telling you how bad all of your ideas sound and how awful all the lyrics are. You just have to ignore it and look at all of your ideas in your archive as works in progress that aren’t yet completed.

Once you’ve been doing this as consistently as you can for between two weeks to a month, it’s time to listen back on what you’ve done. You’ll be amazed at how many of the songwriting ideas you’ve forgotten.

This is the part of the process always makes me feel like I’m hearing my song ideas for the very first time and it’s from this perspective that my songs get finished.

Just think, with your ever growing list of possible song titles at your disposal and your musical and lyrical noodles committed to “tape,” imagine how many more songs you are going to write and complete.

Exciting isn’t it?

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

30 Ways To Overcome (Song) Writers Block

If you know where to look there’s literally tons of great songwriting tips, songwriting articles and general songwriting advice online.

One such example of this comes in the form of an article I found recently titled 30 Songwriting Tips To Overcome Writer’s Block by Sam Wilson from The Pro Audio Files website.

As the title suggests, the article lists 30 ways in which a songwriter can overcome the dreaded block. It is written with a (home) recording studio edge to it but as a songwriter, you’ll be able to glean some gold from the list.

The goal of the article is very simple. Sam writes…

“… whether you’re an electronic producer or more traditional singer/songwriter, you can use this list as a resource to spark new songwriting ideas.”

Reading through the list did give me some things to think about regarding my own songwriting process. The ideas that stood out for me were the following…

  • Idea 04 – Build A World In Your Head
  • Idea 06 – Tap Into Your Own Feelings
  • Idea 09 – Play With Some Samples (this is where the audio recording slant comes into play)
  • Idea 20 – Open Old Projects (you can also reinterpret this as “Revisit Your Old Songs”)
  • Idea 26 – Keep It Simple

No matter how long you’ve been on the songwriting path there will always be days where writing a song can be like pulling teeth and this article would be a very handy thing to have for just those times.

Have a read of the article 30 Songwriting Tips To Overcome Writer’s Block and let me know if there’s anything that you would add to the list.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting Advice – Too Many Ideas Will Spoil The Song

Let me ask you something… Have you heard of the KISS principle?

It stands for “Keep It Simple, Stupid” and it’s a good rule of thumb for when you’re writing songs.

We human beings are really funny creatures, we get bored with simplicity really quickly, so we try to complicate things so we can remain interested in whatever it is we’re doing.

As songwriters, one of the main assumptions we make with our songs is that, how we feel about them is how everybody feels about them.

This is simply not the case.

Making a song more complicated may be of interest to you, but chances are it may lose your audience, so be very, very careful.

A great song is like a great soup. If you put too many flavours into the it, the soup becomes too overpowering for the palette and you become unsure of what type of soup you’re eating.

You see, a song is made up of two essential components:

1. Melody
2. Lyrics

Put simply, a song without words is an instrumental and a song without music is a lyric or a poem. All are just as important as each other however, as songwriters we need to make these distinctions clear in our own minds.

If you don’t pay close attention you’ll end up with a song that, while it might be great for you to listen to, it may have too many ideas in it for its own good.

Too many songwriting ideas in one song tends to do is overshadow the melody which restricts the listeners opportunity to be engaged in a musical journey through the songs lyrics.

Any hooks that the listener can grab onto become lost in the mess.

In keeping things simple, you’re allowing your songs to breathe and develop organically. A great song has just as much space as well as substance in it and as songwriters we are the scales that allow the balance between these two elements to exist.

Musical arrangement, counterpoint and harmony are very, very important in songwriting however, look at these components as things that you use mindfully, knowing full well that too many ideas can do to your song.

Always remember, never be afraid to keep things simple.

Simplicity is neither bad or boring, it’s the best way to get your message or intention across to the listener and besides, we could all do with a bit more simplicity in our lives don’t you think?

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Smashing Songwriters Block, One (Bad) Song At A Time

Songwriting is the creative process of joining together lyrics, melody and music, and this process requires focus, time and patience.

However, all creative people have their own personal nemesis buried deep inside them waiting to wreak some havoc and put a spanner in the works.

It’s called your inner critic but really, it’s another name for your ego.

You know what I’m talking about, we’ve all been there, it’s that little critic inside your head that tells you that you have “nothing to write about” or that you’re “not good enough” or that you’ve got “no time to write” and so on.

If writing songs requires a certain level of activity then to write more songs we need to increase that activity, and one of those ways is to consistently win the battle with your inner critic.

As songwriters we need to be open to fresh new ideas, thoughts, feelings, experiences and observations and keeping that momentum going requires a steady flow of words from brain to paper.

If we lose the daily battle with our inner critic then the songwriting idea valve gets shut off by our own negativity, reasons and excuses and we simply dry up.

Hence the songwriters block.

Songwriters stop writing songs not because of their reasons and excuses but because they have let their inner critic talk them into believing that those reasons and excuses are the truth.

We need to find ways to distract, pacify or perhaps make friends with our inner critic and make it work for our songwriting, not against it.

I’ve always found that the best and most direct way to cure a dose of songwriters block is to just write anything no matter how corny and cliche the outcome may turn out to be.

Hell, I’ve written a lot of “bad” songs in my time from doing this very thing, but I don’t see anything in the rulebook that says that every song you write has to be heard by other people.

The next time you’re sitting down in front of a blank piece of paper and nothing seems to be coming out try this songwriting exercise, just write whatever comes to you and keep going until you fill the paper with words.

As you’re doing this really listen out to what your inner critic is telling you, accept that it’s not the truth and keep on writing and maybe, just maybe you’ll write a song about how you defeat your nemesis.

Hey! It might even be a good one 🙂

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting On Guitar – 10 Tips For The Songwriting Guitarist

It would be safe to say that the most common instrument used in songwriting is the (acoustic) guitar and today I’m featuring an article that outlines 10 tips for the songwriting guitarist.

For me, songwriting and the guitar go hand in hand and I was finding myself nodding my head in agreement to all of the tips presented in the article.

10 Tips For The Songwriting Guitarist mentions that “for most accomplished guitar players, songwriting is the final frontier – far more difficult than getting up in front of an audience and wailing out solos or nailing down the hot rhythm that drives the band.”

The article covers topics such as:

  • Learning new chord voicings
  • Alternate tunings
  • The circle of fifths
  • Writing lyrics first before music
  • Song dynamics
  • Song hooks
  • Different sonic perspectives
  • Songwriting process
  • Collaborating with other writers

Even though the article was written in 2013, what’s mentioned is still very relevant to any songwriter/guitarist honing their craft today. Go here to read the article – 10 Tips For The Songwriting Guitarist. You’ll be glad you did.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting Process – When Doing Nothing Is Still Doing Something

Writing songs is a cyclic process.

Sometimes a song will appear to you  and you can get it down with the greatest of ease and sometimes writing songs is like trying to pull teeth out of the mouth of an angry crocodile.

I know that this piece of advice is going to sound counter-intuitive but if you find yourself in the middle of a period where nothing is coming out and because of that, your motivation is very low, the first thing you should do is to stop worrying about it.

We have all been in that same situation (I know I have).

No matter how hard you try there’s still a blank piece of paper staring at you. It makes you feel all angry and stressed inside because you think you should be writing SOMETHING.

Someone said to me early on in my music career that instead of forcing a song that doesn’t want to come out, the best thing to do is to do nothing at all so that’s what I do when I find myself in these situations.

I do NOTHING.

I just find something else to do. I go for a walk, visit a friend, clean the house, read a book, anything that will take me away from the process of writing songs.

The last thing I would want to do is to get all frustrated and upset that nothing is coming out. Doing that will just make the problem worse I mean, how can you be motivated if you’re stressed out all the time?

My advice to you is that in times such as these you need to give yourself a break.

Cut yourself some slack, take some time out to do other things and please, don’t set a time limit on it because the last thing you want to be doing is putting more pressure on yourself to get back into your songwriting.

If writing songs is your passion, you will eventually come back to what you love doing the most. All roads eventually lead to the next song to write

Sometimes the other things in your life need your attention and taking a break to sort those things out is probably just what you need to do at that time.

As John Lennon so eloquently put it “…life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”

So, if life does get in the way, don’t try to resist it. Just let it pass by and go with the flow of it because once you are clear to write again, you will do it with a renewed sense of vigour and gusto. I guarantee it.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

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