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Category: Songwriting

All about songwriting

What Is The Definition Of A “Bad” Song Anyway?

I ask this question because it seems to me that we, as songwriters are real experts at naming which one of our creations are bad, so much in fact that for some songwriters, it stops them from creating altogether.

Here are some thoughts I have on this subject.

Now, call me strange, but I’ve never looked at any of my songs as being either good or bad. I just allow them to be.

At the end of the day, my songs can be put into one of two categories:

  • Songs I perform
  • Songs I don’t perform

Of course the songs that I perform are the songs I’m very comfortable with sharing with the listening public and/or other musicians

However, the songs I don’t perform go into one of two more categories:

  • Works in progress (for performance)
  • Archived songwriting ideas (for later)

You see, I never throw anything away. Everything that comes from my head is created into something straight away or recycled to be created into something else in the future.

Lets face it, the more songs you write, the more ‘good’ songs you’ll write and for every good song you write there are at least ten ‘bad’ ones lurking in the wings.

So, no matter how much you think your songwriting ideas are bad, write them down anyway. Besides, where does it say in the rules that you have to pitch or perform every song that you write anyway?

If you want to write good songs then writing the occasional bad songs is an inevitable outcome and besides, what really makes a song bad?

A bad song from one songwriter could be another performers treasure. What do you think?

There’ll be some songs you write that are meant to be performed and the other songs will just be the stepping stones towards even more songs.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

When you think about it, the concept of a song being bad is created from a subjective opinion and really, is proclaiming one of your songs as being bad your call anyway?

Here is a exercise to try on yourself. Try deliberately writing a bad song and see how you go. It’s like asking a seasoned musician to play like a beginner.

It’s harder to do than you think. What are your thoughts on this? Let me know what they are.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting – The Blank Page Is Your Friend

Every time we write a song we start off with a blank page.

It sits there and waits patiently for us to pick up our pen and pour out our songwriting ideas from our hearts and minds onto its surface however, a blank page can mean one of two things to a songwriter.

It can either be something to be fearful of, a scary journey into the unknown, the graveyard of yet another “bad” song or, it can be a doorway to infinite songwriting idea possibilities.

Let me ask you this.

Are you free to create whatever you want, whenever you want without second guessing, self-censorship or prejudice on your part? Or, are you a songwriter that feels shackled by the belief that you must obtain some sort of quantifiable result every time you put your pen to paper?

Which headspace would you rather be in?

I know that I’m asking a lot of questions here but as songwriters, this is something we face every time we sit down to write a song and as our answers to these questions are automatic and unconscious, we wonder why at times we don’t write anything.

This is when we start blaming things like songwriters block.

So, try this the next time you sit down to write a song. Look at that blank page in front of you as your friend and playmate.

You see, just the very thought of sitting down to write a song means that there is possibility that the muse will knock on your door and ask if you can come out to play.

Remind yourself that writing a song can be one or more of these three experiences:

  • A linear experience – You come across a possible song title that jumps out at you and after writing the first line of the first verse, a first draft is suddenly completed from start to finish.
  • A puzzle solving exercise – You take a piece here, a song title there, a bit of a verse here and a half written phrase there and, after discovering the common thread that connects everything, a song is eventually completed.
  • Like incubating an egg – You finish writing a chorus but find you can’t go any further however, after leaving the half finished song for a period of time something triggers in your mind and the song magically completes itself.

Sometimes you start writing a song from the beginning and work forwards, sometimes you start a song from the middle and work outwards and sometimes you start writing at the end and work backwards.

When it comes to songwriting, it doesn’t matter where you start, as long as you start somewhere.

Just remember, a blank page is not proof that you’ve not written a song. It’s merely the doorway to an infinite world of songwriting idea possibilities and all you need to do is have the courage to walk through it, regardless of the outcome.

So get out of your own way and allow yourself to be free to create.

Okay, how is that blank page looking now?

Until next time, just keep 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

Nine Ways To Stay Calm When Writing Songs Stresses You Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

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

Songwriting – Just Show Up And Do The Work

From all of my years of writing songs, one of the main lessons I’ve learnt is that in order to be prolific, you need to be consistent.

You need to just show up and do the work.

There is no use in learning how to write verses, choruses, bridges, middle eights if you don’t take any action in implementing what you’ve learnt.

Plus, there is no use in learning how to refine your songwriting process, cultivate songwriting ideas and internalising songwriting tips if you don’t take any action in implementing what you’ve learnt.

The first steps in taking that action is by simply showing up and doing the work.

I was inspired to write this by a Reece Robertson article called The Simple Power Of Showing Up in which he says that…

The world is facing an epidemic right now; that is everyone wants to be successful, yet no one is willing to put in the work to be successful. We have been dumbed down and turned into dopamine and instant gratification seeking drones at our own will.

This reminded me of experiences I have had in past conversations with songwriters who were complaining about how uninspired they were feeling and how it was the fault of the world that this was the case.

Reece then goes on to say that…

For many, their environment has become so trigger-laden that it seems easier to simply talk about the work, rather than to actually do the work.

BINGO! Therein lies the issue here.

Songwriting (as well as any creative pursuit) is just as much a verb as it is a noun. It’s not enough just to say you’re a songwriter. No, you have to back that up with some songs.

This article also says that you can’t be a writer if you don’t write, you can’t be a cook if you never cook and you can’t be an athlete if you never train.

Writing songs encompasses all of those things. You write, you cook your recipe through your songwriting process and you become better at your craft by writing every day.

This is your training.

So, do just that… Show up and do the work, don’t just talk about how many songs you’re going to write. Just write them.

Check out the article The Simple Power Of Showing Up and see if you answer the following question…

What motivates you to write songs?

What gets you out of bed and put pen to paper? Feel free to let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time, show up, do the work and keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Check out the article… The Simple Power Of Showing Up.

What Is “All About Songwriting” Anyway?

Hi there, my name is Corey Stewart and I’m a singer/songwriter, musician and blogger from Australia and songwriting is a craft, an art-form, a process, an emotional outlet and (most importantly) a way of life for me.

I’ve created All About Songwriting to help all songwriters anywhere, at any level, expand on what songwriting knowledge they already have or, to help beginning songwriters start off their journey in a positive direction.

All About Songwriting is my attempt to document all of the aspects of songwriting, musicianship and the creative process in general that I have either directly experienced myself through being a songwriter for most of my life or, from what I’ve discovered online along the way through hand picked/curated articles and other sources of relevant information.

On a personal note, I want this blog is to be constantly reminding me of why I write songs in the first place.

Now it’s a well known fact that great songs are the backbone of the music industry. I mean without them there would be no music industry to speak of… Right? 

THAT is how important the role of the songwriter is in the whole scheme of things.

I feel it’s really important that songwriters have the best information at their fingertips as this enables them to be the best songwriters that they can be and it’s because of this that my goal is to have All About Songwriting become one of the most trusted sources of songwriting information on the web.

This site can only develop in the long term with direct input from its readers (that means YOU), so if now or in the future, there are any questions that you may have about songwriting, musicianship, the creative process, or anything else for that matter, just let me know and I will do my very best to answer you.

In the meantime, I wish you all well on your respective songwriting journeys, no matter where it takes you. Let’s take this first step together… RIGHT NOW!

Until next time, just keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting