Speedwriting can help create a musical gem almost without you noticing.
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Speedwriting is an important technique used especially by writers of words. It’s a common exercise to brainstorm an idea, and then write an essay or short story as quickly as possible, without stopping to correct, improve, or otherwise reword anything; the faster the better.
Why do authors do this? Its main benefit is that it forces the mind to work so quickly that there is no opportunity for self-doubt or self-criticism. And for many who create for a living, whether that’s with music or with words (or both, of course), quieting one’s inner critic is an important part of improving one’s creative abilities.
So if you’re looking for a way to really shake things up, try the following steps which, if you complete them successfully, will give you a new song in 10 minutes:
- Choose a topic for a song: 30 seconds
- Create a list of words and phrases, all of which pertain to your chosen topic: 1-and-a-half minutes
- Create a chord progression: 1 minute
- Write a lyric: 3 minutes
- Compose a melody: 3 minutes
- Fix “mistakes”: 1 minute
One of the most important parts of this exercise is to resist the temptation to fix your song, leaving that duty to the last step. It’s vital that you plow ahead without stopping.
What you’ll notice is that some of what you write will be weak or even downright silly, but parts will work quite well. And you’ll also notice something else: the more you do this exercise (and I recommend it as a daily activity), the better you will become at creating good, singable music.
In fact, you’ll likely see that the choosing of the topic will wind up being one of the toughest parts. Once you know what you’re going to sing about, you’ll find that creating word and phrase lists, lyrics and melody will happen more easily over time.
And one other thing: don’t pressure yourself. Think of it as a fun, perhaps even liberating, pastime that should not stress you out. Don’t throw anything out, no matter how bad you think it sounds. You just never know what little bits will wind up in a future song. So record the results of your speedwriting sessions, and listen to them once in a while.
If nothing else, it will provide you with something amusing to pass the time with. But you may discover that while your brain was racing ahead, you created the start of a little musical gem. Have fun!
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