Get rid of the roadblocks
We music loving people with families, day jobs, and all that jazz, have a smaller window to express our musicality. We typically set way too high expectations for our efforts in the first place. Many of us are so critical of ourselves, that we even end up trashing the best ideas.
We all hide behind excuses; limited time and experience, insufficient funds and tools, lack of space or what not it might be. Stressing about the outcome this much, truly gets in the way. It’s time to work on ourselves to bulldoze these preconceptions, and free some space for creativity. It’s time to go through your archives of existing songs, snippets and sounds and press some musical juice. What would it actually take to get them closer to a final mastered track, something that you could be proud of?
Learn to be consistent
Songwriting is basically like any other task, where you have to sit down and get it done. You have to start and keep sustaining your efforts, and coming back to it as long as it will take to finish. Usually, there’s no magic, just hard work.
So, do yourself a favour and start to work on your consistency. Try to work on your music every day, even a little bit. Set a time, wake up earlier. Strive to give all you’ve got, every time you set to write. That’s what the professionals do anyway. Trust your ideas, work on them and mold them. Give them a real chance. The only thing that’s required from you is that you keep on trying, and that you don’t stop until it’s ready. Remove “give up” from your vocabulary.
Create a structure
The options are limitless, and that fact sometimes makes it difficult to even get started. Creating a song structure and maybe even setting some limitations very often help to kickstart the songwriting process.
You can, for example, take a song that you like, listen and analyse the structure, and mark it down in your DAW as a starting point for your own track. Or you can download ready-made templates. You can always edit and change them as you move along. On the other hand, by setting some limitations, you can force yourself to be more creative. You might even come up with original solutions during the different phases of writing, recording, and mixing.
Download 10 song structure templates for Ableton Live for free here.
Create a space for creativity
Having a dedicated place for your creative moments is vitally important, and it really helps in working towards consistency. Trying to work in your kitchen with kids running around doesn’t really make the production of your next hit easier.
Even a small corner of workspace, preferably behind a closed door, and with all the tools you need ready, serves the songwriting greatly. You have to be able to get on it quickly, record and write down your ideas, so you don’t blow them into the ether. You can use your phone or other handheld recorders, too. Always keep them with you, ready to roll. Try to capture the moment, even a little bit of it. You can always dig deeper on it later.
Trust the process
Crafting a full song with chords, melodies, lyrics, and then arranging, recording, mixing, and mastering it, is a demanding process and one that takes time and know-how. Lots of it. When starting however, you shouldn’t concentrate on the amount of work ahead. Break it down to smaller, more easily digestible pieces.
First, just worry about getting the song right. After that, everything else is just execution and details. You have to be determined to do whatever it takes to make the final product as close to your vision of it as possible. Be ready to turn all stones that get in your way, while tolerating the incompleteness during the creation. Once you complete all necessary steps, you absolutely will arrive to your destination – the final track.