It’s helpful once in a while to remind yourself that as a songwriter, you contribute to the greater good.
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Has songwriting become frustrating for you? Do you sometimes wonder where all the fun went? Songwriting, like any artistic pursuit, is supposed to be enjoyable; why would we do it if it wasn’t? While a bit of aggravation should be considered a normal part of the songwriting process, a sense of joy and satisfaction may be a distant memory for you. You need to get back on track. You need to somehow make songwriting enjoyable again.
Anyone who creates anything will experience intense frustration from time to time. But it can get horribly discouraging when it feels as though everything you try just sounds like garbage to your ears. You’re longing for the good ol’ days, when you could churn out a song every day or two.
First of all, relax. Frustration is often a normal part of improvement. When I was a composition student years ago, I complained to my prof about that very thing – that every time I tried to compose something, it just sounded like crap to my ears.
His reply made a lot of sense to me. He told me that as musicianship improves, it’s not unusual to find yourself making greater demands of yourself. The result is that you often view your current state of writing abilities as “not good enough”. Everything sounds lousy, and you can’t see things improving.
But things will improve, and that’s a guarantee. And you don’t have to sit around waiting hopelessly. If you’re feeling frustrated and unhappy, wondering where the joy of songwriting went, here’s a list of things you can do to make yourself a happier musician.
- Stop writing – at least for a few days. Though I don’t usually think that the solution to songwriting unhappiness is to stop writing entirely, it can help you relax and refocus if you simply step back from writing for a few days, perhaps a week.
- Talk to other songwriters about your frustrations. Expressing your feelings is a crucial part to defeating any problem. Once you hear someone else say, “Yes, I feel that way sometimes…” it reminds you that your unhappiness with songwriting will turn around.
- Find another musician to partner with. Sometimes this simply means sitting down with someone else to jam with. Sometimes it means actually writing a song with someone else. In any case, songwriters can tend to isolate themselves from others as they work. Just working out creative ideas with another person can open the floodgates and get you feeling happy and creative again.
- Spend more time listening. Experiencing other people’s music is a fantastic way to recharge your batteries. You hear other musician’s ideas, and it really gets you feeling inspired.
- Try other creative art forms. Singer Tony Bennett paints. Many singer-songwriters are actors, dancers, authors, and so on. These are fantastic ways to explore other aspects of your creativity. So why not enrol in a course at a local university or college, a course that takes your mind off of songwriting for a bit, but still allows you to be creative.
- Teach others how to write music. It’s amazing how teaching something organizes the mind and helps you as the teacher make sense of a topic.
- Give a concert, or perform at a local café. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that you really are writing some good stuff. Performing several of your best songs is a good way to boost your ego a little bit, and get you back to feeling happy and successful.
And one other idea: Songwriting is something that can and should be studied. While much of songwriting comes from within, frustration often comes from not knowing what to do with your great musical ideas. A songwriting text will speed up your development as a songwriter and make you happier in the long run.
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