Writing a great song is the dream of every songwriter, but one excellent song doesn’t necessarily point to consistency. There are many one-hit wonders, many songwriters who have been able to write something amazing, but have been unable to follow it up with another excellent song.
I write about consistency a lot on this blog, because we know the music industry is reluctant to hitch their wagon to anyone who writes a great song unless they’re able to show that excellence is a trait: you need to be able to write great songs consistently.
The new 4th edition of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” eBook (342 pages) is out. Packed with information about chord progressions, lyrics, melodies, how to develop a songwriting process, all about copyright… everything you need to know to be a consistently great songwriter.
Songwriting excellence comes from a mixture of discipline and consistency, and usually in that order. If for you songwriting is a random process of strumming until something occurs to you, you lack discipline.
Mind you, there is nothing wrong with a bit of improvisation to get the creative juices flowing, and so I think a bit of mindless strumming — as part of a songwriting process — is a good thing.
But if you don’t have the discipline to apply a process to what you’re doing in your songwriting sessions, any good song you write is going to be the result of random ideas occurring to you, and that’s risky.
Risky, because it can work for you really well on one day, but let you down on many, many others.
The great thing about developing a process for your songwriting activities is that you’ve got something to do, even when ideas aren’t coming together quickly. You’ve got a set of steps, or activities, that you move through. And those steps are far more likely to produce good music than practically anything else you can do, random strumming included.
In many cultures, we’ve learned to equate the word discipline with medicine. It’s not always pleasant, but it’s necessary. I’d recommend that we get away from that notion, and think of discipline as a way to organize your knowledge.
Randomness is always going to be a part of the creative process, but if that’s all it is to you, you will never attain the consistency of excellence that gets the attention of the music industry.
If you don’t know how to apply a process to your songwriting, read this recent article I’ve written on the topic.
The sooner your songs happen as the result of a process, the more likely it will be that your latest excellent song will be followed up by another.
“Hooks and Riffs: How They Grab Attention, Make Songs Memorable, and Build Your Fan Base” shows you how a good hook can make the difference between songwriting success and failure. With great examples from pop music history.