If you like starting songs by working with a chord progression, you need to read “Writing a Song From a Chord Progression.” It will give you the pros and cons of this songwriting method, and help you create songs that really work!
How many songs do you write in a typical month or year? You may be the kind of writer who likes to take their time and not worry if you only write two to five songs a year, maybe only writing when the feeling hits you.
On the face of it, you could say that it’s not the quantity of songs, but the quality, that really counts. Who cares if you’re able to write twenty-five songs a year, if none of them really grab anyone’s interest?
One of the reasons I write this blog is to reinforce the important principles of good songwriting, so that songwriting success is not some random event, but rather that you’re able to make your success something that’s predictable and regularly occurring.
So if you’re able to write songs that are more likely to be great ones, it shouldn’t matter so much how many songs you’re writing, right? In a random world, you might write ten or twelve songs a year, where maybe one or two of them are noticeably strong. But with a solid understanding of good songwriting principles, you might increase your average to five or six great songs, and that’s pretty good.
Historically, if you look back at some of the world’s best songwriters (Lennon, McCartney, Bacharach, Cole Porter, Joni Mitchell, etc.), you’ll find that not only did they have a higher-than-average rate of success (i.e., a high percentage of their songs were solid, strong, and notable), but that they also just wrote a lot of songs.
Prolificacy in songwriting is usually an indication that the writer finds it easy to write. And finding music easy to write usually means possessing a solid understanding of the basic principles of songwriting: it’s all coming together quickly and easily.
And of course, there’s no denying (and the rules of “chance” would indicate) that even if your success as a writer is random, the more songs you write, the more chances you have to write a good one.
The main benefit of having a solid understanding of how good songwriting happens means:
- You’ll be able to write faster.
- You’ll probably find it easy to get from start to finish in a song, with more of a likelihood that you can finish a song in one songwriting session.
- You’ll find it easier to work on several songs at the same time.
- You’ll develop a more diverse writing style.
- You’ll find more joy in songwriting, and less frustration.
So yes, being more prolific can be an important part of songwriting success, but in reality, it’s best to think of it the other way around: developing a better understanding of the guiding principles of songwriting will make it easier to write more songs.
In that sense, being prolific is the evidence that you’re polishing your songwriting skills.
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