“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 10-eBook Bundle, written by Gary Ewer, covers every aspect of songwriting, from creating chord progressions, to writing melodies and lyrics, and much more. Read more…
Are you a songwriter that keeps honing and perfecting each song once it’s written? That’s a good thing, of course. But there can be a downside to rewriting songs: you can get bogged down and second-guess what the song’s all about. Constant rewriting can be an early stage of writer’s block. There comes a time when it’s best to put it away and start your next tune.
But rewriting and editing, when done as part of the songwriting process, is like a sculptor who continues to sand off bumps and imperfections that others aren’t necessarily seeing. It’s a good thing, and it’s part of making a final product.
In every art form, whether composing, writing a novel, creating an architect’s drawing, or choreographing a dance routine, the final stages of getting it ready for public consumption involve a lot of fine-detail work. It’s a dangerous time for an artist, because, as I say, it can cause you to feel bogged down and discouraged.
How do you know when it’s time to put a song away and get going with the next one. Here are some thoughts:
- It’s always time to move on. That’s because there are no rules that say you can’t work on several songs at the same time, and in fact, I would encourage it. Having several songs on the go means that as you get stuck with one, you’ve got something else to turn your attention to, and that’s almost always a good thing for a creative mind.
- Perform your songs as part of the writing process. Even if it’s just for a few friends, performing your songs live will give you a true perspective on how it really works — how it really sounds. Use a performance for a few choice friends, or at a songwriters’ circle, as a way of testing the waters.
- Try some “non-invasive” editing. In other words, first consider modifications to your song that have more to do with how the song is performed, rather than actual changing of notes. So rather than assuming that your melodies, chords or lyrics need editing, try a new tempo, a different time signature or performance style. It’s amazing what a small change like that can do to the success of a song.
- Put it away for a while. As part of the writing process, it can often help to put the song away for a few days or even weeks, just to let it sit at the back of your mind for a while. Creative work often happens at a subconscious level. Getting back to it after a time away often results in great ideas that surface immediately.
- Develop your objective-listening skills. Record yourself singing your song, put it away for a few days, and then listen to it as if you’re listening to someone else’s song. Once you’ve developed this skill of hearing the song as someone else’s, flaws and solutions come more readily to mind.
Written by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.
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