One of the biggest challenges in writing good music is figuring out why the song you’re writing isn’t working. You feel that it started with such promise, but now everything sounds lame.
Probably the best thing you can do for a song that isn’t working is the easiest thing: play it for someone. Preferably play it for another songwriter, someone you trust and respect. It can happen that you’re just too close to your own song. Getting advice from someone else can give you ideas you might not have been able to come up with on your own, as long as that person has a good musical background.
Sometimes taking a song with problems and running it through a checklist can be the best way forward. So if you’re in a situation where you’ve written a song (or are in the process of writing one), and the whole thing has stalled, I’ve written a “Songwriter’s Checklist” that can help.
It’s a checklist I’ve offered before on this blog. It’s a free download, and available here.
As always with this checklist, I recommend that you not use it for songs that are working well. As a songwriter, it’s quite possible to second-guess what you’ve written, and think that just because your song appears to violate some of the norms of good songwriting, that you’ve done something wrong.
The fact is that music is always evolving, and sometimes songs will work despite the fact that they go against conventional norms. If you like what you’ve written, enjoy that, and get on with the next song.
A couple of years back I did a video that describes how to use The Songwriter’s Checklist, so you may want to give that a look.
Remember that the difference between a song with problems and a great song can be very small. That makes a checklist all the more valuable because it can help you focus in on one or two issues that bring an entire song down.
Good luck, and don’t get discouraged!
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