For most songwriters, the act of songwriting is about 10 percent imagination/creation, and then 90 percent working and reworking those ideas until a song is complete. Because of that, don’t be surprised if the first ideas you get for a song seem a bit lame. It can take some time before everything sounds the way you want.
And of course, in the process of writing, you may create a lot of ideas that you don’t keep. Those ideas will usually come to you during an improvisation session, where you’re just trying to create musical moments that have the potential of being part of your next song.
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For that reason, telling you to keep everything you write may simply not be practical. It could be that ideas that come to you but get tossed immediately, and you’re almost oblivious to having thought them up at all.
But if you have the makings of part of a song — a verse, let’s say — that just doesn’t feel right, that’s something you need to keep.
And it doesn’t matter how lame, corny or otherwise bad you think it is. If it exists in a recording you made to yourself as you were putting a song together, keep it. If it’s a bit of lyric or chord progression that’s not working in the song you’ve got in front of you, keep it. An idea for a melody? Keep it!
More often than not, you’ll find that it simply doesn’t yet have the right partner ideas to make it come to life. To modify an old expression: one person’s trash can be that same person’s treasure.
Then on a day when songwriting seems hard (everyone has those days), take some time to go through old song ideas that never made it. You may find, on a different day, that one or two of those old ideas suddenly have possibilities.
They could even be the start of a brand new song!
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