Songwriting: Getting Busy – Keeping Busy

Don’t wait until one song is finished before starting your next one.

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The direction of song melodiesThere are two important aspects – definitions, really – for what it means to be busy as a songwriter. One is an obvious one: spending a good amount of time every day actually sitting down to write. If you’re an average writer with a day job or school, you should consider writing five days out of seven to be a commitment to aim for.

But there is another kind of busy: keeping several songs in the writing stage at any one time.

One of the biggest causes of writer’s block is the attempt to focus entirely on one particular songwriting project at a time. If you’re normal, your brain will  run dry of ideas fairly quickly, and you’ll need to take a break from whatever you’re writing in order to “recharge”.

But try this: instead of taking a break, simply move on to a new song, one that’s completely different in sound, feel, mood and performance style. It’s a bit like following the old adage, “A change is as  good as a rest.”

Because most of the time, your artistic brain is more than capable of working for much longer periods of time. The issue is more one of a clogged imagination. You’re trying to create something out of proverbial thin air, and it’s stuck.

But setting your mind to something totally new will show you that your creative brain is still very much capable of working.

So give it a try. Keeping three, four, or even more songs on the go at any one time is very easy to do, and you’ll be surprised at how much more prolific you’re able to be as a songwriter.


Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow on Twitter.

“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 6-eBook Bundle looks at songwriting from every angle, and has been used by thousands of songwriters. How to use chords, write melodies, and craft winning lyrics. $95.70 $37.00 (and you’ll receive a FREE copy of “From Amateur to Ace: Writing Songs Like a Pro.“)

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  1. This strategy has become not just a method for kindling the fire, but my entire approach PERIOD. Philip called me out there, I have so many unfinished songs that it’s overwhelming…but on any given day, I can set out to work on whatever calls to me, and if I get stuck, I don’t have to grasp at that Thin Air, I just reach into my pocket and pick out one of several other options. I often will spend my songwriting blocks rotating three or four songs and working on each for about a half hour or so. I might just be roadkill from the ADD-generation highway, but I have found this keeps me from staring at blank pages, becoming frustrated, bored or wanting to take an unnecessary break. I think it’s a Freedom thing, personally. I like a wide-open vibe when creating!

    • Thanks for writing. Personally, I’ve never found unfinished music to be a problem, but I think it depends on how you look at it. Unfinished music could be seen as a stack of failures, but I’ve never thought of it that way. Every time your mind puts musical ideas together, it’s a unique thing that should be thought of as a little victory. On the other hand, a stack of unfinished songs and few finished ones to celebrate can be an imbalance that’s hard to see any other way other than a problem. I think your approach of digging into that stack of unfinished songs is a great idea. By doing that, unfinished songs can be easily thought of as music in the making.

      Thanks again.

  2. The only I have a concern about this strategy is that it might result in a writer having several unfinished songs instead of a few “finished” ones. As I set goals for the the new year, I’m choosing to focus on completing a minimum number of songwriting projects (writing, arranging and recording) per month and am actively looking to develop an effective strategy for success. One stumbling block for me (in the past) has been starting, but not finishing, similar projects. At this point in my life I’d rather have a series of good, solid and complete songs than to be hung up on trying to write one “perfect” tune.

    • This strategy doesn’t necessarily result in not being able to finish a song. And it’s really meant more for those who have the opposite problem: no songs, finished or otherwise. For some, it never occurs that they can move on to something new without having finished a previous song. That’s the kind of writer the advice was meant for.

      Thanks for writing,

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