How long does it take you to write a song? There’s common opinion amongst songwriters that the quicker it happens, the better it is. Lots of people will brag about how quickly a song came together for them, but there are few who brag about a song that’s taken months or years.
In the fairly long list of things that songwriters shouldn’t worry about, the length of time it takes for a song to be complete is near the top of the list.
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There are times when writing quickly is beneficial or necessary:
- You’re writing a song for someone who needs it for a performance or recording on a set date.
- You’re writing a song for yourself for a specific concert.
- Your writing a song to partner up with a specific event (funeral, birth, fundraiser concert for a family who’s dealing with a tragedy… that sort of thing.)
But most of the time, the songs you write happen simply because you’ve finished one song, and it’s time to get the next one started.
If you find that songs take a long time to finish themselves, it can cause you to worry. You might wonder why it takes so long, and think that it’s an indication that you’ve got some sort of problem with your process.
Usually that’s not the case at all. Songs, especially in the pop genres, are often the product of, at least in part, improvisation. And because of that, you like to think that the improvising will lead to a completed song pretty quickly.
And sometimes that’s the case. But most of the time, improvising on song ideas will give you bits of songs, but not the completed product.
In most cases, that’s when the real work begins. You take those bits of ideas and start to assemble them. And if, for you, lyrics are the most important part of what you write, it can take a long time for the words to feel just right.
In those cases, it can take many weeks or months for a song to finally feel right.
If you’re one of those songwriters who subconsciously feels that the longer it takes, the less likely it is to be a good song, now is the time to change that way of thinking.
A good song takes however long it takes. If it comes together in one songwriting session, that’s great. Time to work on the next one.
But if it takes many weeks, or even longer, that’s just how it is. A good song takes however long it takes.
Written by Gary Ewer. Follow on Twitter.
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It’s funny how the writers mind works I have two daughters about a year apart in age, my oldest got engaged in September of 2018 set a date for Oct of 2019. I wanted to write and record a song for the father daughter dance and surprise her with it at the wedding, plenty of time right ? Finally got something down that was at best clique 2 weeks before the wedding.
Went to visit her the Saturday before the wedding and rewrote the entire song on the ride home lol and finished the recording in the parking lot just before the ceremony (no pressure) I m super critical of my own writing but It was perfect. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.
Part two: lol my youngest gets engaged a month later and thought how am I ever going to match her sisters song. A week later it was done.
I really can’t thank you enough for all your well thought out insightful articles I bought the bundle years ago and I haven’t seen anything yet that is as relatable and understandable as your books and Emails.
Sincerely Ken Daoust
Thanks so much for that story, Ken. If I’ve learned one thing over the years, it’s that we can’t tell our own creativity how to work! And I’m really delighted that the ebooks have been useful.