All About Songwriting

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Category: Journalling

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 but now that 2017 has arrived I think it’s about time I started journaling again.

I want to start journaling 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. This year, 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 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.

I want to get back to the stage where

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

Songwriting Tip – Creating Lyric Ideas By Journaling

It’s a known fact that winning the conversations that you have with your inner voice on a daily basis is one of the main keys to getting the most out of your songwriting process.

For me, writing down my thoughts by keeping a journal is one of the best strategies I’ve found to keep my inner voice in check.

I’ve also found that there needs to be some conditions attached to this exercise to enable it to work effectively and those conditions are:

1. A journal entry has to be done every day – Believe me, the appointment you make with yourself to write in your journal will be the most important one in your day.

2. Set a minimum word (or page) target – My minimum personal writing target is one A4 page and with practise, I achieve this goal easily. What’s one A4 page? You’ll be able to do that too.

3. Grab a coffee and start writing anything that comes to mind – Allow your writing to be good, bad or indifferent. Let go of any need for the writing to be perfect.

4. Pay attention to what your inner voice is saying to you as you write – I try to incorporate my inner voice in my journal entry which then enables me to look forward to these daily arguments with myself.

5. When you have reached your word (or page) target, STOP – You’ve achieved your goal… Well done.

6. Go onto something else – Get on with the rest of your day knowing that the most important thing you’ll do for the day is done.

You’ll find that as you start writing your inner voice will begin to chatter away in its attempt to distract you from the task at hand.

It’s amazing what it will say to stop you from being creative however, instead of succumbing to the temptation to stop what you’re doing, just keep going and plough through the noise.

Believe me, it will be very difficult at first but you will eventually free yourself of self doubt and in its place will become a flow of ideas, confidence and inspiration.

I should know because I’ve been doing this myself.

I have been journaling and now, blogging for years but it wasn’t until I started reading “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron (a must for any songwriter) that I realised the power of writing down my thoughts on a daily basis.

In the book the first thing she talks about is a concept called The Morning Pages.

The Morning Pages are three A4 pages of automatic writing that you do (preferably) first thing in the morning and boy, what a powerful tool it is for collecting lyrical ideas.

It is important to note that, to also gain the most benefit from this exercise, it must be done every day.

Writing songs is a craft, a discipline that require the songwriter to let go of any outcomes and become at one with the words that they write.

“So whats next?” I hear you ask.

Well, let’s start a little experiment shall we? My suggestion is to start writing down your thoughts today and keep writing them for a period of seven days. It can be on paper or on your computer, it doesn’t matter.

If you like, you can treat yourself by buying a really nice notebook for this experiment. You deserve it.

After a week of putting down your thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, fears, aspirations and inner conversations, have a look at what you have written.

Chances are you’ll see a lot of crap but I guarantee you, hidden away in all of that crap will be some amazing lyrical ideas that will jump out at you and demand your attention.

Sometimes you have have to dig through the dirt to find the diamonds in your own backyard. Let’s see how you go with the experiment.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting