4 Ways to Increase Your Songwriting Output

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GuitaristSurely we can all agree that quantity is not quality. You can claim to have written 500 songs, but if they don’t amount to much more than garbage, you’ve got 500 useless songs that no one wants to hear. That having been said, there is something to be said for the ability to write easily and often. In particular, it’s frustrating if you find that you’re not finishing most of the songs you start. So what are some ways you can increase your songwriting output?

First, let me emphasize that I’m not advocating simply trying to churn out dozens of lousy songs, just for the sake of saying that you’re prolific. But it is great to be able to come up with an idea for a song, plan it out, and then get it done, from beginning to end.

In my experience, that kind of constancy of writing skill can be enhanced by the following four tips:

  1. Don’t stick to one songwriting formula. Once you’ve successfully used one method or formula, that’s the indication that you need to explore a new way of writing. If you started your last song with a chord progression, start your next one with a melody, or a rhythmic idea, or some other such thing.
  2. Listen to musical genres that you don’t normally listen to. You may wonder what country music can do for you if you are mainly into techno. Lots! You may discover melodic shapes that you don’t normally come across, or even harmonic treatments or instrumentation ideas. And while right now you might think that those possibilities are rare, or nonexistent, give it a try. Listening to music you don’t normally listen to will open your creative mind.
  3. Keep everything you write down. You may feel like throwing out anything that doesn’t seem to work in the song you’re currently working on, but you might be surprised that some small musical idea will find a home in a song from your future. And also, some ideas may actually be lame, but writing them down and mulling them over allows you to re-work them, and they can find a new life that way.
  4. Set aside a specified time every (or almost every) day. Discipline is a crucial part of proficiency. And the discipline that comes from setting up a writing schedule reaps benefits the more you do it. Allowing yourself to stop every time you hit a snag is going to hurt your songwriting skills. Set a time, and stick to the schedule no matter how tough it is.

Written by Gary Ewer, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website
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