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

Need a to get your Songs to Record Labels, Publishers or Major Artists? Then check out TAXI: The World’s Leading Independent A&R Company, helping bands, artists and Songwriters get signed.

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

Some Thoughts About Writing, The Process And Writers Block

philippullman

I wanted to share some thoughts about the craft and process of writing and in particular, writers block that I’ve gleaned from English author Philip Pullman.

On his website there are some transcripts of past interviews that really shed some light on his thoughts of the craft of writing, the process and especially writers block.

To illustrate this, he responds to the question “What do you do about writers block” by saying…

“I don’t believe in it. All writing is difficult. The most you can hope for is a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block, and doctors don’t get doctor’s block; why should writers be the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expects sympathy for it?”

I couldn’t agree more.

This is a great example of how pearls of wisdom from an author can still be relevant to a songwriter. Writing is writing regardless of the end result whether it be a short story, a song, a novel or a technical paper.

Some other noteworthy quotes from Philip Pullman:

On where ideas come from…

“… I can’t believe that everyone isn’t having ideas all the time. I think they are, actually, and they just don’t recognise them as potential stories. Because the important thing is not just having the idea; it’s writing the book.

That’s the difficult thing, the thing that takes the time and the energy and the discipline. The initial idea is much less important, actually, than what you do with it.”

His advice to anyone who wants to write…

“Don’t listen to any advice, that’s what I’d say. Write only what you want to write. Please yourself. YOU are the genius, they’re not.

Especially don’t listen to people (such as publishers) who think that you need to write what readers say they want. Readers don’t always know what they want.“

On inspiration and the process of writing…

“… if you’re going to write anything that will last – you have to realise that a lot of the time, you’re going to be writing without inspiration. The trick is to write just as well without it as with.”

Personally, the only antidote for writers block is… To write.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Mastering The Art Of Finishing Your Songs

finish

I reckon one of the biggest self imposed obstacles that songwriters face is the inability to finish songs once we start writing them.

If you’re like me then you would have a large archive full of half finished demos and songwriting snippets accompanied with reams of paper filled with possible song titles and scrawled out lyrical ideas.

Let’s face it… The initial creation of songwriting ideas is far more exciting than the tedious re-writing and editing required at the end of the songwriting process.

Don’t you agree?

This is why I have a lot of unfinished songwriting business lying around which is why an article by Nicholas Tozier on his Song Written blog called “How To Finish Writing The Songs You’ve Already Started” really grabbed my attention.

In the article he starts off by writing…

Every song is written one word at a time. If you’re waiting for a complete idea to fall out of the sky into your head, perfectly formed, make sure that you’re comfortable right where you’re sitting. It’s going to be a long wait with nothing but a clean, white, virgin notebook to keep you company.”

This was what made me take notice. It made me realise that it’s perfectly okay for me to have a lot of half completed songwriting ideas at my disposal and that it’s all part of my songwriting process.

I’m sure that this is the same for a lot of other songwriters out there too.

Later on in the article, Nicholas goes onto listing five things that he himself does in one form or another, to help finish off the songs he’s already started.

1. Set aside time to FOCUS
2. Go about your day but keep the song in mind
3. Connect all the dots
4. Practise free-writing
5. Keep learning about songwriting

For a more detailed explanation read the full article “How To Finish Writing The Songs You’ve Already Started.”

I’m convinced that we are meant to have more unfinished songs than finished ones, that sometimes a start of a songwriting idea might lead onto the finishing of a completely unrelated song.

It doesn’t matter how you do it, but as long as you’re always practising, refining and constantly improving your songwriting process, you’ll be able to find a way to finish your unfinished songs.

How do you finish off the songs that you’ve already started? Do you have anything to add to the above list? Let me know.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Read the full article “How To Finish Writing The Songs You’ve Already Started.”

VIDEO: Songwriting Tips With Beth Neilsen Chapman

This is a great video by M Magazine of an interview with hit songwriter Beth Neilsen Chapman who has had her songs performed by such artists as Faith Hill, Willie Nelson, Trisha Yearwood and Mary Chapin Carpenter.

In just over ten minutes Beth Neilsen Chapman eloquently answers these four questions.

  • How do you write a really good song?
  • How can someone develop their sense of creative flow?
  • How do you work through (song) writers block?
  • Is songwriting an innate skill or can it be taught?

Songwriting Tips: Beth Nielsen Chapman

I really love the way she talks about how important it is to just show up to write even if nothing is coming out at the time.

I couldn’t have said it better myself…

Until next time, just keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

6 Ways To Develop Your Songwriting Process Further

clockgears

Any songwriting process needs to breathe, it needs to organically grow and develop so it can eventually gain its own momentum and function under its own steam.

The creation and maintenance of ones songwriting process is a lifetime commitment.

For a songwriting process to truly serve the songwriter it needs to do the following:

  • It needs to grow legs and crawl before it can walk and walk before it can run
  • It needs to be constantly worked, tweaked, analysed and improved upon
  • It needs the songwriters patience, dedication, passion and focus
  • It needs the songwriter to be brave enough to try new things, get out of their zones of comfort and even to make mistakes
  • It needs the songwriter to allow themselves the time to learn from those failings
  • It needs the songwriter to let go of their ego and allow themselves to create without prejudice

I’ve always believed that a constantly developed and refined songwriting process is the most important asset that a songwriter can possess and it all starts by asking yourself the following question…

“How do I write my songs?”

Your songwriting process becomes your answer, an answer that will last a lifetime.

Now, let me ask you the question… How do you write your songs?

Do you have a set way of doing things or, do you approach your songwriting from different angles depending on what ideas come to you first?

Let me know how you do it and I’ll let you know how I do it and therefore together, we can develop our songwriting processes with each other.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting Process – Reading Books For Lyrical Inspiration

oldbooks

We have so much information around us these days yet I still hear so many songwriters complain that they can’t find anything to write about.

The way that I look at it, there’s so many ways in which a songwriter can be inspired that it’s almost impossible to not find anything to write about.

Personally, one of the ways that I’ve found which really gets my creative juices flowing is immersing myself in the many forms of media that I’m exposed to every day, such as newspapers, TV and magazines.

It’s not what type media that has the potential to inspire, but how it’s used and today I’m talking about books.

Now, I’ll admit it. I don’t read enough. In fact, we as a society don’t read enough and there are many reasons for this but let me tell you, when I start reading a book I start feeling guilty.

It’s very strange I know, but when I read a book I start getting feelings that there’s something else that I could be doing besides taking time out for myself, sitting in a comfortable chair and reading.

This is a great example of my inner critic hard at work.

I was talking to a songwriting friend of mine about this some time ago and he made a suggestion that was remarkable in its simplicity.

He said to me “why don’t you use reading a book as part of your songwriting process.”

I never thought of reading a book in that way but the more we discussed the concept the more excited I became about it. I knew that this was going to open some doors for my own songwriting.

Simply put, use books as a reference library of words, phrases, quotes, statements and sentences that you can use for your songs.

Now, I’m not talking about plagiarism here, just a shifting of your perspective by using other peoples words to form newly created perspectives in your own mind. It’s from these new perspectives that you write your songs from.

I’m going to start experimenting with this technique and here’s what I’ll be doing.


1. I start off with my book, a writing pad plus a highlighter pen (only use the highlighter it if the book is yours).

2. I read one chapter at a time rather than as many pages as I can in one sitting.

3. As I’m reading, any phrase, words or sentence that either jumps out at me or I feel some affinity with, I write it down or highlight with my pen. I then re-read the sentence so I don’t lose track of the story.

4. If there’s a passage that moves me I stop and write down what I’m feeling at the time. Some questions I’d be asking of myself could be:

  • How do I relate to this?
  • Is there a story for a song in this?

5. At the end of the chapter I write a synopsis of it in my journal.

6. If one of my captured lyrical ideas has a melody attached to it, I then get my guitar out and start formulating something with it.


At the moment this experiment is purely theoretical. It is not perfect by any means but if I can read my favourite book and gain songwriting ideas at the same time that’s got to be a good thing.

I’ll let you know how I go with this.

As with any songwriting process, one songwriters way of doing things will be different to another. All I can do is try it out and see what happens.

However, if you have any suggestions on how I can improve this fledgling songwriting technique or, if you want to try this experiment yourself, let me know and we can start comparing notes

I’m excited…

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

My Songwriting Process – How I Cultivate My Songwriting Ideas

fishing

Well, seeing that for the last nine months I’ve been putting together a songwriting blog called All About Songwriting, I thought it was about time I revealed to you how I get my songwriting ideas.

Now, my songwriting process may work for some but not for others but hey, if you want to give my method a go you have my permission to do so.

Before I start, let me just say that for me, writing a song is like fishing and my songwriting process is the equivalent to baiting the hook to get a bite.

So, with that in mind, let’s go fishing. Here’s how I do it…

1. Have a tape recorder/smartphone plus notepad and pen ready to go.
By getting your songwriting tools together at the ready you’re now baiting your hook and throwing the line in but you better be ready when the songwriting idea bites.

2. Pick up your instrument of choice, and start noodling.
What I mean by noodling is, don’t play anything in particular, just improvise. Let your creative juices start flowing and let your mind wander wherever it wants to go.

Don’t worry if what you’re playing sounds like something else and especially don’t worry if you are playing your stock standard, tried and tested favourite chords.

Just enjoy these bonding moments between you and your instrument. You’re fishing the sea of infinite songwriting ideas.

If you feel like singing but you don’t have anything concrete in mind just sing some improvised, non-sensical lyrics to accompany your noodlings. Engage yourself in the rhythm of the words not the meaning of the words.

3. Pay attention to what you play and be prepared to go off on tangents.
The more you noodle the more you’ll notice that what may seem familiar at first will become less so. If you stumble across something which makes you say to yourself “ooh, that sounds nice,” run with it, explore it.

This leads to the next step.

4. Stop noodling and start exploring – You’ve just got a bite!
A songwriting idea has taken your bait and now is the time to reel that sucker in and make some sense out of it. Play what you’ve discovered over and over again and get a little familiar with it.

What you’re doing here is formulating a skeleton structure for the newly discovered songwriting idea.

5. Record the songwriting idea and (if you can) write down the chords on paper
Once you’re familiar with the songwriting idea start recording it, nonsensical gobbledigook lyrics and all. If anything, recording your songwriting ideas will enable you to tell one idea apart from another.

6. Leave it alone and start noodling again.
Once you’ve recorded the idea go back to the beginning of the songwriting process.

What you’ve recorded is not meant to be a completed masterpiece. It is only the concrete beginnings of a songwriting idea and there’s plenty more where that came from. The time to refine the idea is not now, it’s later.

Getting back to comparing this process to fishing, when you finally catch a fish you don’t then stop everything to prepare the fish to be eaten don’t you? You store the fish and continue.

It’s the same with songwriting ideas.

Rinse and repeat as many times as you like… How long you want to keep fishing is totally up to you (or as long as your schedule allows).

This is the main way that I gather my songwriting ideas. It may not work for everyone but it works for me. I would be interested what people think of it so if you have any questions and/or feedback then feel free to let me know.

And another thing, don’t be concerned with getting a result straight away. If you start noodling and all you do is noodle then that’s fine. You can always try again next time.

Practice makes perfect but the most important thing about this exercise is that you’re perfecting your songwriting process, not the end result at this stage.

Turning your songwriting ideas into completed songs comes later (but I will cover that later)

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting Process – Starting With A Song Title

title

In my opinion, one of the best ways to kickstart your songwriting process is by using a possible song title as your foundation phrase to build your song from.

Gary Ewer in his article “Starting The Songwriting Process With The Title” reinforces the power that a song title has in the craft of song creation.

In his article, Gary writes…

“…Starting with the (song) title gives you a few distinct advantages. It makes it more likely that you’ll be able to develop a catchy hook which will help with the development of the rest of the song. It also helps lyric development by having a key line you can focus on.”

From that, it seems that by having some sort of point of reference such as the song title, filling in the lyrical blanks can become less of a challenge.

Read the article here and while you’re at it, think about starting a list of possible song titles of your own.

In fact, if you do feel free to share some of your possible titles, you never know there might a song or two waiting to be released into the world.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

The Illusion Of Songwriting Perfection

construction

Recently, I was chatting to a songwriter friend of mine about the pain he experiences while writing songs.

He said that he’s great at starting songs but lousy at finishing them (well, aren’t we all).

My friend also told me his philosophy for his songwriting process is, “if the song is not perfect then the song isn’t worth finishing.”

WTF! No wonder he’s experiencing the pain of songwriters block.

I think that the concept of “if the song is not perfect then the song isn’t worth finishing” is something that’s more common among songwriters than we care to admit.

So, allow me to be a little blunt here. This struggle for songwriting perfection kills people.

It kills their creativity, kills their inspiration and sometimes (in extreme circumstances) the drive to perfection can kill a person physically.

There is a huge difference between being driven to write great songs and being driven to write perfect songs.

In my reply to his statement I said “…why don’t you try not to see songwriting as a means to an end (the hit song) but as a way of letting yourself go?”

As songwriters, how much pressure do we put yourselves under? A lot!

Is it worth it? NO!

The notion of songwriting perfection in anything is but a mere illusion. It’s created by the ego and massaged into existence by insecurity, jealousy, doubt, low self esteem and shame.

Songwriting should be a celebration of life, of letting yourself go, setting yourself free and playing around with your creativity. It’s not about reminding yourself how inadequate you are because you compare yourself needlessly to other songwriters.

Always remember that there’s not another one of you on this planet so therefore your experiences, your thoughts, your insights, your feelings, your dreams, your desires, your observations and the way that you question life, universe and everything around it are uniquely yours, and yours alone.

What does that mean? It means that…

1. There is no point in comparing yourself to others as there is no one else but you to compare yourself to in the first place

2. Being the unique creature that you are whatever you say is always very, very important.

The concept of perfection would only exist if there was something perfect to aspire to in the first place.

Now granted, there have been some amazing songs written in the past and there will be amazing songs that have not yet been written in the future, but none of those songs are “perfect” and they never, ever will be.

We, like our songwriting, are all works in progress.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting