It’s a well-researched fact that when you have too many choices, it’s demotivating.
“Offer students a choice of 6 essays, rather than 30 essays, for extra-credit and more will take up the opportunity if there is less choice of essay titles – and, what is more, they write better essays.”
And if you have 45 song ideas in your notebook, chances are none of them will get finished.
Here are a few tips for busy songwriters that have trouble finding the time to write songs and for songwriters who have too many ideas to finish.
1. Have only a few places to capture song ideas
If you have your song ideas in five audio recorders, seven notebooks, and thirteen computer folders, then chances are all those unfinished open loops are unconsciously stressing you out. If you capture your song ideas in a central location, your songwriting will be better organized and easier to manage.
Here’s the minimum of what you need to capture:
- Song Titles
- Written Music
- Recorded Audio
Keep it simple. If you have song titles, melodies, and chord changes scattered over multiple inboxes, they’re going to be much harder to find and keep track of.
Try to capture your audio recordings on a single device, like your iPhone. Keep a single notebook, like my favorite Moleskin, for lyrics and written music. And have an organized computer filing system for all your digital writing.
2. Have one song that you are finishing at the top of your list
Always be focused on finishing one song.
If you successfully write more than one song at a time, good for you. But if you struggle to get songs finished, narrowing your choices will be more motivating.
Plus, with the above system of capturing your song ideas, you will have a beautifully organized cornucopia of inspiration to draw from when you’re ready to write and finish song number 2!
3. Tag all of your song ideas
I can’t personally speak for Windows users, but with Spotlight on the Mac, you can quickly find any file with just a couple of keywords.
Adding metadata to your song ideas will help you organize them and find them quickly. If you tag your songs with descriptive terms like “happy” or “rock anthem,” you’ll be able to make unique connections between all of your song ideas using criteria like emotional content, subject matter, tempo, or key signature.
4. Review your song ideas at least once a week
Your weekly review is the time when you archive finished songs, choose your next song to write, and celebrate all the great song ideas you came up with during the past week. You can also add tags during this review to help your songwriting during the upcoming week.
The weekly songwriting review is useful for reevaluating, reprocessing, and feeding your intuition.
5. Commit to writing at least 15 minutes a day and for more extended periods a couple of times a week
There’s a small number of things you need to complete to finish a song:
- Song Title: Lyrics, Melody, Rhythm
- Chorus: Lyrics, Melody, Harmony, Rhythm, Form
- Verse: Lyrics, Melody, Harmony, Rhythm, Form
- Prechorus/Bridge: Lyrics, Melody, Harmony, Rhythm, Form
It’s good to know what song sections you have finished and what you have yet to finish. If you print out my Speed Songwriting Cheat Sheet, you’ll know exactly what you need to do next.
I hope these tips help you finish more songs and relieve any stress that you might have over the multitude of unfinished song ideas you have floating around your mind. If you have songwriting tips to share, please comment.
Happy songwriting. 🙂