chord progressions

Speedwriting Songs (Turn Off Your Inner Critic)

There’s a lot of value that comes from writing songs quickly. Speedwriting requires you to use your musical instinct as a primary part of your process. And most good songs have a noticeably improvisatory sound, as if the singer and players are sort of making it up as they go along (in the best sense of that idea). Speedwriting enhances that improvised sound.

Hooks and RiffsSongwriters are very familiar with the chorus hook, but there are other kinds to experiment with, and you will want to discover the power of layering various kinds of hooks in the same song. “Hooks and Riffs: How They Grab Attention, Make Songs Memorable, and Build Your Fan Base“ shows you how it’s done.

But there’s a downside to writing very quickly, and if it’s something you try from time to time, you’ll know what I’m talking about: a lot of garbage can happen.

But that’s okay, as long as you turn off your inner critic.

Most of the time, you write at a pace that allows you to evaluate what you’re writing and make some decisions about what you’ll keep and what you’ll toss. In that regard, we all have our own natural pace. Some are naturally quick writers, and for others — well, it just takes a bit more time.

There’s no rule that says you must write your songs quickly, but the benefit, as I mentioned, is that you tap into the more instinctive part of your musical brain. You come up with ideas because they feel naturally expressive and meaningful to you.

If you’ve not tried speedwriting your songs before, I would encourage it. But at the same time, I would caution you to accept the fact that a lot of what you write will need some fairly serious editing at a later stage. And your inner critic will keep trying to get you to stop and to throw away most of what you’re writing.

A speedwriting session is a good time to turn off your inner critic and think of what you’re writing as collecting material for possibly several future songs. There is no rule that you must accept everything that comes out of a speedwriting session.

And because good songs are comprised of several separate elements all pulled together — lyrics, melodies, chords, etc. — any one speedwriting session can focus on any one element, and you can (and should) switch your focus around as your creative brain runs a little bit dry.

You can make speedwriting a personal (fun?) challenge by setting a timer for some unreasonably short period of time — five minutes, let’s say — and see what you come up with. But it works just fine without a timer.

Just remember to hit ‘record’ on your device, to make sure you don’t miss any gems that go flying by!

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter

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