All About Songwriting

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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

1 Comment

  1. Hi Corey,

    Are my posts to you getting through ?

    My most recent response to your recent response still remains unanswered, so perhaps there is a glitch in the system – ? ?

    If so, here is another copy (Cut and pasted) for you (Below).

    Looking forward to hearing from you:

    >> OK, I might be showing myself up here as a bit thick in the head but I’m still confused what is going on here. <<

    — NO ! You are RIGHT ON TARGET ! ALL THE WAY DOWN THE LINE .

    BRAVO ! !

    I'm really starting to get excited about this — and I shouldn't be !

    (HA HA HA HA HA HA ! )

    After all, the writer(s) — there are 2 of them – could easily say : "Oh, it's already published ; Let's just let it be incorrect ."

    BUT !

    I don't think so.

    Here's why:

    This is a very unique song, that has been drafted from an original idea, and even the original "idea" gives credit to others who were credited before (Particularly for the main hook), and the main writer who finally put the current lyrics to it (Ha Ha ! Notice, Corey, I say "current lyrics" — as if, by some mystery, this could actually still be a WORK IN PROGRESS) even admitted that this is a MOST unusual song that has taken 85 years to "complete" ! (Or, is it really "complete" ?).

    SO ! —

    I have to ask myself: "OK — 85 years for an 'evolutionary process' for this song",

    and, this particular writer even admitted that he got some of the information wrong that is included in the song.

    SO THEN, you have to ask yourself :

    How settling (Or "unsettling" to put it better) is that ?

    In other words, as a writer (And, let's assume that "almost every writer" is a bit of a perfectionist, right ?), do you REALLY want to have a MEGA-HIT being sung 1,000 years from now with admittedly wrong information in it ?

    And, Corey — I do mean MEGA-HIT here .!

    WHEN :

    The "fix" is SO SIMPLE, that I'm surprised it already hasn't been done, or at least hasn't been changed for live performances .

    This "fix" is just as powerful as a 3 to 6 note "melody line" in a Beethoven piano sonata (Beethoven was an incredible genius with the way he would use just three, or four, piano notes to create awesome melody, while the other piano keys played the orchestration behind that simple melody line) —

    and I'm telling you, Corey,

    the "fix" for the rearrangement of just a few (VERY VERY FEW) lyrics would make all the difference in the world to the content of this song,

    (I'm hesitant to even tell you just HOW FEW lyrics would be rearranged, because they are SO few, and so simple, and easy, and the song sings so much more powerfully, with the RIGHT information, that I'm terrified that you would fall out of your chair ! ! ),

    and, I personally think the writers would FLIP to understand how simple, yet how powerful, and how far reaching this change would be (They're not stupid ! ).

    OK !

    I appreciate your instructions for how to proceed — still seems like a considerable uphill battle, though, but I do think the main writer could be contacted through his group's website.

    Conversely, let me play "devil's advocate", and ask you this:

    Let's say the writers just stay "consigned" to the fact that the important information in the song is wrong, which they already know, and because of publishing, licensing, royalties, sheet music, and every other beaurocratic technicality under the sun that you can think of,

    they decide to "beaurocratically and institutionally" just leave it alone,

    BUT !

    — they simultaneously realize (And they WILL realize this !) that for all future live performances, they could have it sung correctly — for instance, it would only take them, or their publisher, 2 seconds to put the word out for the simple rearrangement of lyrics in order to get the artists currently covering the song on board, and everyone singing it correctly at live performances, instead of incorrectly, in the future.

    Is this a possibility also ?

    Finally, who do YOU know that is powerful enough in the music business, in the U.S.A., who could help with this ?

    I am not adverse at all to working with the right people (Yourself included) to help me bring this about.

    This is just simply too good of an idea, with far reaching consequences for the life of the song (I.e., 1000 years from now), to let this go.

    Your recurring thoughts ?

    – Jim

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