There are moments where you may feel like you’re at a creative standstill, and when this happens, it can be tempting to wait for inspiration to strike. But in reality, there’s no use waiting around for something we don’t know when or if will happen. So the best thing we can do is focus on what we do know — finishing our song!
So how do you go about getting your song done when you’re not feeling inspired? Here are some tips to help make your next songwriting session a success:
Identify your songwriting project and what you want to accomplish
When inspiration strikes, by all means, listen. But songs started by inspiration are often abandoned simply because you don’t have the time or ability to finish the song at that moment. The evidence? We have more songs in our voice memos app than we have finished. To be expected, songs started should be greater than songs finished. But having a process in place to get you from a song idea to a finished song will only benefit you in the long run.
The first step to completing a song is identifying what you want to accomplish and the reasons behind why you want to complete it. Have a running list of songwriting projects handy, so you always have something to write. In the absence of inspiration, you’ll want to start writing songs using an organized process. You’ll want to write songs in minor and major keys. You’ll want to write songs that are slow, medium, and fast. You’ll want to write songs in different styles and for different musicians. In addition, you’ll have a list of ideas that came to you in moments of inspiration to expand your song project list. This master list of song ideas will free you from needing inspiration.
Look at the steps involved in completing a song in one sitting
If you’re struggling with procrastinating on a song, it can often be helpful to break the project down into smaller steps and take one of the steps at a time. It keeps things feeling manageable and lets you make progress without feeling overwhelmed or like you need to do everything at once.
To complete a song in a single sitting, you’ll need to have a list of steps that will lead you to finish the song successfully. Each step in the Speed Songwriting System is easy to do and can be completed quickly. For example, the first step of Speed Songwriting is to choose a title, song plot, tempo, and beat. When you break down each step into manageable pieces like this and have a process in place to complete each step, you can finish your song without feeling overwhelmed.
Download the Speed Songwriting Cheat Sheet for more info on writing music and lyrics quickly (regardless of musical experience).
Listen to your self-talk as you’re writing songs
Your language can help keep you motivated and focused, or it can lead you to feel insecure and stuck. Each step of the Speed Songwriting System was designed to reduce the amount of resistance with creative work. When you don’t feel like “writing,” you might feel like “finding words.” When you’re feeling insecure that your song isn’t sounding like a “masterpiece,” you might be pleased with your song as a “first draft.” Remind yourself that even though you are completing a song in a single sitting, it’s your choice to edit and refine or abandon it at a later date.
Your self-talk matters. It’s important that during songwriting, you don’t censor or criticize yourself. The goal is for you to find ways of making songs a reality. You may think about approaching a song as if someone else started it, and now you’re taking over and exploring different ideas on how you can finish the song. You might be surprised at how effective this technique is to get out of your own way.
Be proactive and get that song done!
If you take my advice and stop relying on inspiration to start and finish songs, the hardest part of songwriting is often getting started, so I suggest taking a smaller first step. Focus on that one step, and it will get done — plus, you’ll feel so much better about the work you’ve completed than if you’re focusing on a big mountain to climb. Inspiration is fickle, and we never know when it will hit. That’s why you should try to get rid of the temptation to wait around for inspiration and instead focus on finishing that song!
Make your first step to start a songwriting project list, and then schedule an hour to start and finish one of the songs in a single sitting. Once you have a list of songs to write, a process in place to finish these songs, and a regular writing routine, you’ll be unstoppable.
If you want a system for completing songs quickly, look no further than the Speed Songwriting System.