Have you thought recently about why you write songs? Do you find that your reasons for being a songwriter today differ from whatever drove you to being a writer in the first place, however many years ago?
Maybe you found songwriting to be a creative outlet, where the writing of melodies, chords and lyrics helped you to express your innermost thoughts and feelings. You might think that that is the most common public perception of why you do what you do. But I wonder if Google is exposing a different story.
If you think the most common way to finish “How does a songwriter____” is “write a melody”, “create a chord progression”, or “write lyrics”, you’d be wrong:
If Google is showing, as they claim, the most common searches, the results are a bit sobering.
Do you like starting your songs by getting the chords first? That’s a method that can work for you, as long as you avoid the common pitfalls. “Writing a Song From a Chord Progression” takes you step-by-step from chords to completed song.
There’s nothing wrong with making money from this thing you do and love. There’s nothing wrong with that being on your list of priorities. But I am hoping that you focus on other more organic reasons for songwriting.
What I’m really thinking about today is this: Do you write to please others, or do you write to please yourself? I suspect that the answer might be a little of both, and I think that’s probably the healthiest attitude.
I think the mindset that’s going to take you furthest is that all of the following statements are more-or-less true:
- You write to express thoughts and emotions in an artistic way.
- You express those thoughts and emotions in such a way that others might find artistically compelling.
- You write to feel artistically satisfied, and seek to better yourself each time you write.
As you can see, I believe that good songwriting comes down to artistry. If all you want to do is build an audience, with little thought to your own satisfaction, developing your own unique expression, I think you’re eventually going to feel frustrated and dissatisfied.
The desire to create something artistic — to express yourself in a uniquely creative way regardless of other people’s opinions — has the potential to satisfy you for many years to come.
If you spend most of your writing sessions worrying that others won’t like what you’ve done, you may need to shift your focus a bit back inward, and look for ways to ensure that you like what you’ve done.
Written by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.
“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” eBook bundle comes with a free copy of “Creative Chord Progressions”. Learn how to take your chords beyond simple I-IV-V progressions. With pages of examples ready for you to use in your own songs!