Write An Amazing Song Everyday – Your 3 Step System

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GUEST POST: Chris Rockett is a musician and music marketing consultant from London who uses Direct-to-Fan marketing tactics to help level the playing field between DIY musicians and major label artists. Feel free to follow along on his Music Marketing Blog or Facebook Page

This article is based on the simple idea that you have probably heard me talk about many times in my work and that I personally think is the most important success factor in your music career.

Songwriting
Creative Commons License credit: mockstar

And if I can get my brain into the right gear I think this will be one of the most important daily habits I can show you on the path to musical glory!

So no pressure there then ;-p

The simple idea is that if you can keep making progress with your songwriting each day and have a system for coming up with great work you will wake up one morning and realize that your music has reached the tipping point of quality. So rather than having to spam your stuff all over the web to try and get some attention, all you have to do is just send a simple tweet out or post up a YouTube video and your fans will spread it around the web for you like a viral cupcake.

Why is Songwriting Such a Bitch for Most of Us?

It’s all well and good to play covers and write the odd tune, but to give the illusion that you have super human musical genius you need to give time to your craft six days a week.

I say “illusion of genius” because it is my personal belief after reading a great book called “Outliers” that there is no such thing as genius, but just people who have worked on their skills for 10,000 hours or more.

After that much practice humans seem to take on a superhuman ability.

For a great example of this you can look at the Beatles. They were just a normal up and coming Liverpool band like any other before they went to Hamburg and played gigs for 20 hours per day. At that rate of playing it was easy for them to get in their 10,000 “genius hours” and come back to the UK as the best band to have ever played a note.

Think I mentioned that idea in a post the other day so sorry to repeat myself…

A lot of people have a fear of songwriting because they think of all the times they have sat there with no ideas and an empty song book. All the times that their worked seemed to be embarrassingly bad, and the thousands of snippets of songs that seem to have no connection, and that you know could be great if you could just finish them off.

For the rest of this article I’m going to show you a method to break down the barriers of this songwriting fear.

Becoming a Songwriting Machine

Blue robot, head
Creative Commons License credit: Dennis Wong

The first thing we need to do is throw out everything we learned about writing at school, because the idea of trying to write the perfect song all in one go is total crap.

This is about being creative…

My songbook is covered in doodles, and all manner of things that just pop into my head while writing. You need to connect with your inner child and imagination a little bit.

This daily exercise is going to be fun and because you are going to commit to this there is no reason to think that what you write at first even has to be any good.

Think of it like this…

If there are two songwriters and one of them writes one song per month and the other one has a songwriting schedule to produce work everyday, who is going to be the expert in one year’s time?

That’s right, you guessed it. The second songwriter is not only going to have many more songs to choose from, but also has the massive benefit of being able to compound songwriting efforts over time, and get a little bit better each day.

If you track your songwriting progress on YouTube (as I suggest) you will be amazed at the progress you make each month, and you will naturally start to build a following if you use a few simple tricks.

The other day I was listening to Hagop talking about a songwriter who said that only 1 out of every 100 songs he wrote would be a hit, so it is was massively important to keep the gravy train rolling.

Step 1 – The Music Ideas Recharge

Quick Tip: Use Evernote to back up your blog in real time
Creative Commons License credit: joe.ross

This is where you build up subconscious ideas for your work. One of the best ways to do this is to jump onto a site like www.ultimate-guitar.com and play through songs that you love.

Notice the chord structure and how the melodies work together, and get a feel for why the song has such an impact.

You can also look at news websites and Twitter to see what’s going on and affecting people in the world, if you like to write more current stuff.

This process should not take you more than 20 minutes and you should not start writing straight away.

You need to give time for the ideas to start to roll around in your subconscious so come back and write your tune the next day.

*Important* This means that as you start to make songwriting a daily habit you will write up your ideas from the previous day when you get up in the morning, and then recharge for tomorrow.

As you recharge you need to actively be taking notes and taking song ideas down in some kind of notebook because you will pick one idea to work on for the songs.

You can use Evernote to make a master list of your ideas, when you are on your PC and they also have an iPhone app which keeps all your ideas synced up.

Step 2 – 25 Minutes of Music Fun

Electronic Notebook
Creative Commons License credit: pheezy

You will need:

  • Timer
  • Recorder
  • Some kind of instrument (optional)

When you come back the next day its time to start writing. Set your timer for 25 minutes and have your recorder handy.

You want to pick one song idea and stick with it until you have completed the whole thing. Even if you are not finished and have to come back for another session

Now you just let it all out, start to think of ideas and melodies, after a while you will hit upon something that makes sense; but you should never judge what you write at this point.

Your goal is to play for 25 minutes everyday rather than to produce a great song because that will take care of itself in the editing phase, as you start to build up a body of work.

The reason this works so well is because most people never spend any real amount of time actually focusing on a single tune.

Usually people sit down with a guitar, or piano and jump from idea to idea disregarding what they are playing as “crap” then moving on. The old way of writing is inefficient because you end up with a load of ideas but nothing finished.

The first five minutes will be like a rocket taking off, you will feel the pull of gravity to give up and go and look at Facebook, but if you can breakthrough the pull of procrastination the ideas will come like a flood.

Wow that was sort of poetic!

The only rule is that you don’t stop recording for the whole 25 minutes and never stop coming up with ideas. You’re alone and nobody is going to laugh so it does not matter at all if what you come up with seems embarrassing because sometimes those rubbish ideas will spark off something magical.

To be honest a 25 minute focused session of songwriting should give you more than enough content to finish a song everyday once you get good at this.

With this process you could generate more songs in a couple of months than you have done in your whole career, it’s really amazing.

The Guidelines

  • Write with a stop watch.
  • Finish at the end of 25 minutes even if you are writing a masterpiece (This will give you enthusiasm for tomorrow.)
  • Don’t criticize what you’ve written, the chances are that 70% of it will be crap and you will edit it out, but there might also be 30% of magic.
  • Don’t stop for the whole 25 minute period, if you run out of ideas just sing total gibberish and pretty soon your brain will kick in again and you will be back to inspiration.
  • Don’t do research while you are writing. If you are talking about something that needs to be accurate just make up the “facts” and check anything out that you need to in the editing stage.
  • Write fast and brain dump everything.

Now we need to polish our creation to make it all nice and shiny.

Step 3 – Editing

The trick is to leave what you have recorded overnight and forget about it. If you try to turn it into a song right away you will get burnt out.

The editing process is simple…

You just sit down with your recording and write up everything that you came up with using google docs or your word processor of choice.

There will be a lot of different options for choruses, verses and lyrics to choose from, and also listen for half mumbled lyrics that you can rewrite and turn into something very profound.

Once you have all your ideas down you want to group them together into verse, chorus, middle 8 or any other way that you put your songs together. Then start to remove or rewrite anything that you are not totally happy with.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery, French writer (1900 – 1944)

I believe that to be true of songwriting too, because it is better to have a shorter song that is full of great work rather than something that is flabby and rambling.

Don’t obsess over this step, you need to get the song to a point where you can play it through; you can come back to it with a producer at a later date if need be.

Step 4 – Tell The World

YouTube button
Creative Commons License credit: PIAZZA del POPOLO

This might be scary for some of you but the last step is to jump on YouTube and post up your new song.

As I said before this will be a document of your progress, and will also be a great promotional tool for you in time.

The other great reason to post your work is that it’s a good feedback mechanism to see what connects well with your audience.

You just need to make sure that you ignore any of the trolls that come on and say “Your hair looks weird” or that you “can’t sing”. This will happen because people find it funny to be stupid, but just let it roll, and realize that you are on a path to greatness because you have a great daily habit. (I know that sounds a little bit cheesy but it’s true.)

Those idiots are just spending their whole day abusing people on YouTube and masturbating over fake naked pictures of celebrities…

So Fu@% them!

Final Thoughts

If you can create the song writing and posting habit every day your whole music life is going to change because now you walk the walk as a musician and are making progress. Producing a large volume of new work is going to be fun.

To your fans this will seem like magic, and nobody will know how you can be so consistently creative.

Just remember that you are going to suck at first because everybody does. But rather than quitting, it will be your job to just turn up everyday and work on the process.

Go get your timer and GET TO WORK!

Good luck, I’m rooting for ya.

– Chris

Article Source: How To Write An Amazing Song Everyday – *Your 3 Step System*

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