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Category: Songwriting Process (Page 1 of 2)

Songwriting Process – Reading Poetry For Lyrical Inspiration

“We live in a world of infinite songwriting idea possibilities. All we have to do is go out there and find them.”

I outlined in my last posts “Songwriting Process – Reading Books for Lyrical Inspiration” the concept of reading books as a way of gathering lyrical ideas.

Since then I realised that you can apply this concept to other forms of communication. However, if you’re like me and the thought of reading a whole book is a little bit daunting, try immersing yourself into some poetry instead.

A poem (just like a song) generally has a short space of time in which the reader is given the gist of the story or concept. Most works of poetry are short bursts of observation mixed with pure emotion.

A particular form of poetry that I have been getting into of late is Haiku.

Haiku is a Japanese writing art-form which is very, very constrained in its approach. You have three lines and seventeen syllables (broken into 5, 7 and 5) to get your story or concept across.

An example of some haiku is “Tree, Wind, Cloud and Sky” by a good friend of mine, Garth Dutton.

A lush green of trees
Contrasting with high wind clouds
That whiten, blue sky

Personally, I see haiku as a concise but ready made song synopsis. My challenge to you would be to expand a seventeen syllable haiku poem into a four minute song.

Give it a try and see what you can do.

However, for people who would rather read something less abstract but don’t want to be tied to a book for a long period of time, a collection of short stories are also a great way to gather song lyric ideas as well using the same concepts as my previous post.

Make a date with yourself and go to your local library and pick up a few books of poetry/short stories or, check out some poetry/prose blogs such as the ones I’ve listed below and put yourself up to task.

If you do write some songs using this songwriting technique, let me know about it. I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting Process – Reading Books For Lyrical Inspiration

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

Songwriting Tip – Developing A Songwriters Mindset

“Take the attitude of a student, never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new” – Og Mandino

The above quote beautifully sums up what I would call a songwriters mindset, a powerful skill to master.

Just think about it, if songwriting is all about capturing aural snapshots of our lives and what’s happening around us then, to get the best out of our songwriting we have to develop a certain attitude towards our lives.

Let’s explore this further.

If we are to work at our chosen craft to the best of our ability, gathering songwriting ideas, refining our creative processes and perhaps gain some inspiration along the way then, we, as songwriters need to look at life in general differently to how others would see it.

I believe that there are three stages to writing a song.

1. Mindset – What this blog post is about
2. Process – The nuts and bolts writing of the song
3. Result – Song completed

The songwriters mindset is one of letting go of any preconceptions about the world around you and taking everything in at face value.

It’s about embracing life for what it is, a wonderfully personal human experience that’s different for everybody. Your songs need to be recorded/performed and shared with everyone.

Develop an almost obsessive yearning to experience as much of life as you possibly can (whether it be good or bad) so you can write a song about it.

It’s about not being afraid of what others might think and telling the world about your thoughts, feelings, observations, dreams, questions and answers. It’s all about facing your fear and doing it anyway as the well known cliche says.

Having a songwriters mindset is all about becoming a receiver for the songwriting ideas that are floating about in the ether and when you successfully receive, it’s about being open to what you have received.

As Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones says:

“Songs are funny things, they wake you in the middle of the night and say “I go like this”. They control you until you’ve done the right thing by them.”

It’s about being more aware about what is happening in the world, what people are doing and saying and being prepared to write down what you feel, hear and see.

It’s about finding out what is the essence of you and attempting to put that onto paper so that no matter what you write it will always be from your own unique perspective.

I could go on and on and on but hey, it’s all about allowing ourselves to be a songwriter. Allowing ourselves to explore the grey areas of life and finding the light and shade.

Allowing ourselves to ask “what would happen if..?”

To develop and eventually master the songwriters mindset you have to question everything around you and nurture a childlike curiosity for the world.

As the beginning quote says “… never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.”

As we’ve started off a new year ask yourself this question “what does a songwriters attitude mean to me?” Then write it down because that will become your first songwriting resolution

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting Process – Getting Out Of Your Own Way

At the end of the day, writing songs can be as easy or as hard as you want to make it.

One of the main reasons why songwriters find the songwriting process difficult is that they get in their own way by placing a pre-determined outcome to their process.

There are a lot of songwriters that have an inability to let go of the outcome and just allow themselves to write.

For example, while writing, a songwriter may say things to themselves like:

  • This song must be a good one
  • This song must be original
  • I can’t sound like anyone else
  • This song can’t be bad
  • I must be inspired when I write
  • I don’t have anything to write about

Let’s bring this back to you now.

If you were experiencing all of this negative dialogue while you were trying to write a song, do you think you would be able to finish it?

I don’t think so.

Creativity in any form exists because its creator, is free from all distraction. Learning to let go enables you, the songwriter to become free.

Allowing ourselves the freedom to create without any prejudice or pre-conceived notions is one of the greatest gifts that we can give to ourselves.

Next time you start writing a song try this.

As you start writing, think of nothing else but writing. Don’t worry if the result is going to be a good or bad. Better still, don’t think of any result at all.

Just write… Treat writing like it’s a meditation.

As you write you will hear your inner voice start to rant. When this happens, write down the rant on another piece of paper and allow it to pass through you rather than let it rattle around inside your head.

Treat these negative rantings as if you’re a matador allowing a feisty bull to run past your red cloth.

You never know, at the end of your songwriting session you might have finished a song plus have the beginnings of another and it’s all thanks to letting go and getting out of your own way.

What are the things that your inner critic says to you that creates a barrier between you and your songwriting?

Let me know what you do to break it down and set your songwriting free?

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

12 Ways To Enhance Your Songwriting Process

I realised a long time ago that when it comes to the songwriting process there’s no such thing as the perfect way of writing songs, it can always be improved upon.

Listed below are twelve ways in which I think you can enhance, improve and eventually master your songwriting process.

Even if you implement just one of these suggestions you will be well on your way to writing more songs and generally being more creative with your life.

Here they are in no particular order of importance:

1. Always keep a journal
I cannot stress enough the importance of documenting what happens in your life and how you think and feel about it. This always creates the foundations of some great songs.

2. Always make time for you
If I ask a songwriter why they haven’t written as much as they would like, the reason of not having enough time almost always comes up.

True, to get a song down from mind to paper requires a certain amount of “free” time however, if you make that time every day to write something or play something you are going to feel much better about yourself.

3. Use all of your senses in your song lyrics
We have five senses (see, hear, taste, touch, smell) which we use to experience anything that happens in our lives. Why don’t we use them in our writing as well.

Pay close attention to your senses, be mindful of them in your writing.

4. Become perpetually curious with the world
I have a theory that songwriting is life. Songwriting is our way of making sense of the world around us. If we become perpetually curious with the world around us we will have more to write about. Some ways in which you can do this:

  • Always ask ‘why’ either out loud or in your own mind
  • Go out of your way to experience life to the fullest
  • Take some risks
  • Do something different every day
  • Become open to learn new things

Life is about experiences, so go and find new ones and write them down in song.

5. Tame your inner voice
Most of the time your inner voice attempts to prevent you from doing what you know you should do as a songwriter. This is your ego talking and even though it has good intentions (to ‘protect’ you) what it says to you does not further your cause.

Next time you hear your inner voice mumbling inside your head as your about to do something, try to ignore it and do it anyway.

6. Don’t be afraid of your own writing
Remember, it’s okay to write a ‘bad’ song (whatever that means) and the more ‘bad’ songs you write the closer you are to writing a ‘good’ song. Don’t be afraid of the outcome, just immerse yourself into the songwriting process and marvel at whatever come from it.

7. Listen to lots of music/read lots of books
This is another exercise in making time for yourself. Listening to music attunes your mind to different musical structures and melody combinations and reading books exposes your mind to different word phrases and lyrical snippets that you can use in your own songs.

8. Learn other peoples songs
I am not asking you to become a cover musician however if you learn songs that you have a real affinity with you will begin to really understand why you love that song so much and with that knowledge you can then apply that to your own writing.

If you don’t play an instrument at least know the lyrics and melody of your favourite songs.

9. Find and know thyself
Commit to the concept of finding out who you really are. When you know this you’ll be able to write a love song for instance, and not have it sound like one big cliche because the lyrics will come from you and not an interpretation of what every other songwriter has said.

10. Don’t throw anything away… EVER!
Whether it be on paper or on your computer, don’t throw anything away, don’t delete anything from your hard-drive that pertains to your songwriting process. What you may think is rubbish now could be treasure later on. Our moods change day by day and so does our outlook on what we write.

11. Join a songwriting organisation (or two)
The best way to learn more and to gain confidence in a skill is to experience the input of others. At the very least you will not feel so alone in your songwriting endeavours. Seek out and join one (or more).

12. Find a songwriting collaborator
Two heads are better than one at times. A good collaborator makes you write better, will inspire you to come up with more ideas, will allow you to ask questions, bounce ideas and share ideas much more freely.

Every songwriter should have at least one collaborator in their contacts list.

Phew! There you go. If you have any experiences after applying any of these suggestions (positive or negative) let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting Tip – Inspire Your Songwriting Process With Quotations

Quotations are those little gems of wisdom that people come up with regarding any topic that you can think of.

I love them.

I’ve always thought of quotations as condensed forms of insight that songs could be created from. I’m sure there have been many songs that were inspired by a choice quote or phrase.

As songwriters, our craft is in the dealing of both words and music so therefore it makes perfect sense to immerse ourselves in these things. Reading a book of quotes is a great way to get a songwriting idea.

Instead of condensing information from a story into a song (something big into something smaller) you’re taking something very condensed and creating a story which then becomes the song.

Heres how I would do it:

1. Find a quote that catches your eye.
There will be a lot of quotes that you will just gloss over but every now and then you will read something that will make you sit up and take notice.

For some reason it has struck a chord in you.

When this happens write the quote down.

2. Start analysing the quote.
Ask yourself these questions and write down the answers. Why did the quote stop you in your tracks?

What images flashed through your mind when you read that quote? Is there a story or event that comes to mind from reading the quote?

Start brainstorming some ideas. Perhaps use a mind map.

3. Start putting all of the pieces together.
By now you will have a longhand version of you thoughts, feelings and memories inspired by this quote.

Look at what you’ve written as a jigsaw puzzle waiting to be put together. If you find that there are missing pieces then make it up.

You’re a songwriter, use your imagination.

My favourite place to be inspired is MusicThoughts, a website created by CD Baby founder Derek Sivers as a place where quotes regarding music, songwriting and the creative process can live and be discovered by all who seek to be inspired

However, there are some other great quotation directories on the web which I turn to from time to time just to see if I can be inspired by someone else’s pearls of wisdom. Sites such as…

With a little bit of web research under your belt you’ll find that most of the sites you come across will allow you to search quotes via keyword, such as songwriting or music so have a look and see what you can come up with. I wonder how many songs can be created.

I’m giving this songwriting technique a shot and I’ll let you know how I go and if you decide to give this a try yourself, then let me know how you go too.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

6 Ways To Develop Your Songwriting Process Further

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 an ongoing, 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

Learn The Rules Of Songwriting In Order To Break Them

When I was studying music in High School some years ago, I remember having one of my many intense conversations with my music teacher Mr Morgan about the so-called “rules” of music  and why I had to learn them.

I remember saying to my Mr Morgan defiantly, “well, if anything goes in music, why are we having to learn all these rules and structures?”

Now, being a very knowledgeable and insightful chap his answer was simple and straight to the point. He said to me in the calm and measured voice of a Zen Master that I must “first learn the rules in order to break them.”

I was blown away by the answer and from then on, everything just made sense. My insatiable appetite for learning all about music suddenly doubled (no, tripled) right there and then.

What I’m outlining here is that even though the music industry seems to be only wanting young, good looking pop singers who can sing songs of little or no substance, someone will always come along and break the rules.

The music industry is indeed a constantly changing and dynamic beast with a voracious appetite for great songs. It’s always good to remember that the music industry would die a slow and horrible death if there were no more songs to be written.

Just think about it… The songs we write today could potentially shape the music industry of tomorrow so learn all the rules you can so you can then be that songwriter that makes a difference by breaking those rules.

When you’re honing your craft, perfecting your process, increasing your songwriting activity and researching your art, you’re not doing this to find some magic formula that will make you millions upon millions of dollars.

You’re doing all this work to exponentially multiply the amount of sonic colours that you can paint with.

Don’t use the songwriting tips, ideas, techniques and rules that you pick up along your creative journey as a means of corralling your songwriting output in a certain way under the misguided promise of finding some sort of songwriting holy grail.

Use that information as some sort of point of reference so you know how you’ll do things differently next time. Change your direction from time to time, challenge yourself and don’t ever be just content with where you’re at right now.

Nurture your desire to keep learning because in a world full of similarities, it’s the little differences that make you and the songs that you write, stand out the most.

I hope that in some small way All About Songwriting helps you to learn all the rules you’ll need so you then know which ones to break first.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Which Songwriting Process Works For You?

I’ve always been really fascinated with the songwriting process and how there seems to be many roads that can lead to a completed song.

You can approach writing a song in a number of ways.

1. Write from a melody or riff
2. Write from lyrical ideas
3. Write from a song title
4. Write with a collaborator

The last two are my favourites ways to write songs.

These above mentioned points are nicely expanded upon in an article by Richie Gilbert called “The Songwriting Process – Finding What Works For You.”

There is also a heads up to the fact that not all roads that lead to a songs completion are suitable for everyone. In the article Richie also says that the songwriting process…

“…can be a rather personal journey. I’m sure there must be as many different ways to approach writing a song as there are songwriters.”

Here is the article below. Enjoy!

The Songwriting Process – Finding What Works For You
By Richie Gilbert

The songwriting process can be a rather personal journey. I’m sure there must be as many different ways to approach writing a song as there are songwriters. I’m going to outline a few basic approaches that I like to use when writing a song.

Some of them I use more often than others, because it’s easy to get used to doing things one way. But I tend to get bored using the same formula time after time, so sometimes I like to mix it up.

Writing from Melody

My most commonly used approach to the songwriting process is to write the melody first. I have always been comfortable writing melody, and I believe a strong melody is of extreme importance. So this is where I usually begin.

I’ve played guitar for many years and am very comfortable on this instrument, so I often sit around noodling on it. I play around with some of the melodies that always seem to be circling in my head until I fix upon one that I find compelling.

You don’t need to be proficient on the guitar or any instrument to write melody, although it can certainly help. Simply humming some lines into a hand-held digital recorder is enough to get your ideas flowing.

Once I have those initial strains of melody I play around with various chord progressions until I find one that I feel complements the melody.

I then move on to the lyrics, drawing inspiration from the emotion that the music evokes in me. I work hard to ensure the words and lines conform to the melody in a way that sounds natural.

This is one of the most challenging aspects of the songwriting process for me, so I don’t skimp on the effort necessary to achieve the results I’m after.

Lyrics First

Sometimes I know what I want to write about before having any music worked out. I’ll begin writing lyrics for my new song with only an idea of the rhythm I’m going to use, and no idea of the melody.

I generally don’t wait until the lyrics are complete before I begin working on the melody and the chords. In fact, once I’m happy with the general direction, the music starts to suggest itself to me pretty early on.

I find it easier to write good lyrics using this approach, as I don’t have to be concerned about making the words fit the music. It will be the other way around. However, I still have to create clever lines that flow naturally within a solid rhythmic structure.

I must also be sure it sounds like a song. When writing lyrics without music we run the risk of it turning out like a children’s poem, with each line the same length as the last, and with a predictable rhyming scheme.

Today’s hit songs don’t tend to follow this neat, buttoned-down format. They are much more likely to sport lines of varying lengths, and rhymes in somewhat unexpected places. Listen to a few current popular songs and you’ll see what I mean.

Try to keep this in mind when writing lyrics first.

Start with the Title

This is probably the songwriting process that has the potential to produce the most powerful, focussed songs. When you write from a title you don’t have to worry too much about where the song is going.

Your main job is to simply keep it on course. As long as you make sure each line and section points back to your title you shouldn’t have any trouble doing this. If you come up with a really good title your song will practically write itself.

Coming up with a great song title can be as easy as keeping your eyes and ears open. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, try to keep a small part of your mind on the lookout for phrases that command attention.

Newspaper headlines are full of potential song titles. So are presidential speeches, products on the shelves of the local supermarket, and museum exhibits. Great song titles are everywhere!

Just listen in on the conversations of little old ladies at the bus stop. You are sure to pick up a few golden nuggets!

When you have your title, start asking yourself questions about it. Let’s say our title is “Never Again”. Who is saying this? Is it you? Who or what are you saying it about? Has your trust been betrayed? Perhaps the title refers to a night of unbridled debauchery! (Never again!!!)

Keep asking yourself questions until you’ve gotten to the bottom of it. You’ll find your answers provide so much information that your song is already under way before you’ve written a single lyric.

Writing with a Partner

Whether you focus on the words or the music, collaborating with another songwriter is a priceless experience. I can’t say enough about the advantages of this particular songwriting process.

When you find a compatible writing partner to share in the act of writing a song, you’ll find the possibilities are almost endless.

The more you bounce ideas off of each other, the faster they start flowing. Many times I have come away from a collaborative songwriting session with ideas for two or three songs other than the one we’ve been writing!

The key is finding a writing partner who you trust and with whom you can exchange meaningful and valuable ideas.

Although it seems as though it would help to find someone who has similar influences and writing style, it might be better if they don’t. When you draw from different musical backgrounds, the songs you write together will become something you probably couldn’t accomplish alone.

Of course, you will have to be able to agree upon a certain direction, but if you can both be flexible (which is essential), there is the potential for writing some very interesting material.

What’s Your Favourite Approach?

When I set out to write a song, these are a few of the different approaches that work for me quite nicely. Try them for yourself and see which you are most comfortable with. There are, of course, many more that are not outlined here.

Experiment a bit and see if you can come up with some of your own.

About The Author

I’m Richie Gilbert and I have been passionate about writing songs for many years. I also spend much time in my home recording studio, and am active in pitching my songs to music publishers.

To learn more about the craft and business of songwriting, please visit my website at

What is your favourite way to write a song? Do you stick to one of the points mentioned or, do you swing between them depending on where the inspiration takes you? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

The diversity of the answers to the above question and the opportunity to readily learn from other songwriters through their own songwriting experiences is why I love the process of songwriting so much.

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 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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