Songwriting Wall – Creating what you want (Part 1)
Let me fill you in on a situation I’m going through.
I can write okay songs, but I want to do better than that.
For as long as I have had this blog, being the best you can possibly be has been one of the core principles that I talk about, and it should not be any different for me. It is a fact that if an artist writes okay songs with the goal being to entertain, his/her chances of success are slim to nothing. An artist in this situation needs to do one of two things:
1. Be the best there is. If your goal is to entertain, be the best entertainer. There are just as many forms of entertainment as there are ways to present them. Mediocre songs will get you nowhere, so write the best songs, or take the best songs other people wrote and be the best at presenting them.
2. Redefine what it is you are trying to do with your material. Not everybody’s goal in music is to entertain. For example, religious musicians often don’t even focus on the entertainment value of their music. My goal is to be involved in creating things that entertain, inform, and liberate people (as opposed to being merely a distraction). After I define how much of each I want to do, a more unique style is created that allows me to practice being the best in an area that has less competition.
As you can see, working towards being the best remains a key component of success, regardless of which route you choose.
Here’s where it breaks down for me right now. My history of songwriting contains a lot of negativity from my past. While much of it has been dealt with to the point where I am a positive, productive person, I have not lived long enough in this state to write songs that entertain, inform, and liberate. For me, songwriting draws me back into a cold dark place, making it frustrating, and nearly impossible to create the art I want to express. It bothers me so much sometimes that I do not practice long enough to really build the skills I need.
This is a wall. And while many creative people claim they can only create what they feel at the time, that’s not me. I am a mixture of artist and businessman, and therefore I am thinking about how to make the changes necessary to get really great.
Here is what I propose: Set a time aside that is a whole 1-2 days. For the most part spend that time alone, yet call someone if it feels helpful to do so. Make sure it is someplace you won’t be disturbed (if you have to get a hotel room and make a weekend retreat out of it, do so.). Bring your laptop, whatever instrument(s) you use, paper, something to write with, and whatever else you feel you need. Take that time out to ask yourself why you are at a wall, how it made you feel, where did it come from, and how to change it? Explore different strategies for changing how you create or what you use for creation. After that, try creating some things without worrying what emotions are coming out, and changing the song/lyric (or part of a song) until it starts to have what you want it to have.
That is what I want to do, and it looks like I will spend Thursday, and Friday doing that. If not, I will definitely get it done by month’s end. Hey, it is the holidays!
Why am I sharing this online? Well, I don’t want anyone to make illusions that I am some sort of guru. I am 22 years old, and I have some answers, and want more still, on this life-long journey. If something I have an issue with is shared by other people, seeing my journey may help…and seeing your journey may help me.