As a songwriter, there are going to be times in your career where you’ll be so inspired, writing a complete song from start to finish in one go will seem like the easiest thing in the world.
For the rest of the time however, it’ll seem like that all you’re doing is constantly finding that next songwriting idea.
You don’t necessarily need to have a fully set up home recording studio to capture your ideas (although I do suggest you seriously consider moving in that direction) but having access to some sort of basic audio recording device is essential.
Personally, I always like to give the voice recording function on my smartphone a really good workout.
It never ceases to amaze me though, how many songwriters out there are still relying on their memory alone and not recording their songwriting ideas.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from all of my years of writing songs it’s this… When it comes to your song ideas, never, ever trust your memory.
A good songwriting exercise and an example of how I record my ideas is this…
If you’re like me and writing songs on guitar is your thing, I imagine you try to set aside some time each day to pick up the guitar and play whatever comes to mind.
Next time you do this make sure you have some sort of recording device near by ready to go. When a hint of an idea develops simply press record and commit that idea to “tape” for future reference.
Once the idea is recorded you then have the choice of either developing the idea a bit more or, go on to finding where the next song idea will come from.
The beauty about this exercise is that you’re not under any pressure to remember the little snippets of possibility that you’ve seemingly conjured up from nowhere. It’s all down on “tape” ready to be referenced ion the future.
Just remember, the whole purpose of the exercise is to simply record what comes out of you.
Another thing I like to do while noodling on the guitar is make nonsensical sounds and rhythms with my voice at the same time, singing whatever comes into my head. It’s quite okay to babble rubbish into a voice recorder or smartphone and not feel bad about it.
When I’m lyrically noodling, I take particular interest in the melodies and the rhythms I produce at the time. The lyrics can come later.
When doing this exercise, don’t even look at finish a song, just gather ideas, phrases, riffs and melodies and get them recorded in some way. After a while you’ll develop quite a collection of them.
This will become your comprehensive songwriting ideas archive.
Be warned though, your inner critic is going to have a wonderful time telling you how bad all of your ideas sound and how awful all the lyrics are. You just have to ignore it and look at all of your ideas in your archive as works in progress that aren’t yet completed.
Once you’ve been doing this as consistently as you can for between two weeks to a month, it’s time to listen back on what you’ve done. You’ll be amazed at how many of the songwriting ideas you’ve forgotten.
This is the part of the process always makes me feel like I’m hearing my song ideas for the very first time and it’s from this perspective that my songs get finished.
Just think, with your ever growing list of possible song titles at your disposal and your musical and lyrical noodles committed to “tape,” imagine how many more songs you are going to write and complete.
Exciting isn’t it?
Until next time, keep on writing,
All About Songwriting