10 Tips for Songwriters

I’m currently reading a book called Starting Point: 1979-1996 by Hayao Miyazaki, and although I’m only a few chapters in, I find it a fascinating read because this is Miyazaki, god of animators, and I will buy almost anything this man creates.

Why do I bring up Miyazaki in a blog post about song writing? Well, I only read his stuff because his stuff is awesome. If he was some guy down the street, or even some washed up politician, I wouldn’t expend the effort.

Why would you, who may possibly be a much more successful musician than I, wish to read my ten tips on writing songs? I’m just some guy down the street.

I personally can’t think of a reason, but that’s not stopping me from posting them.

Tom Slatter posted a blog post requesting other songwriters to give him 10 tips. Here are mine which I wrote in an hour… so they probably need a bit more fleshing out. Eventually.

  1. Creativity can be practiced. Always create, always sing, always write, always play, always indulge yourself in making stuff up.
  2. Laugh more. Daniel Pink‘s book “A Whole New Mind” has a whole section on “Play”, and makes the claim that joyful people are more creative. Not to say that we ignore the other emotions, but I don’t agree with the image of the suffering artist.
  3. If you cannot find inspiration, then you are restricting yourself. The world is banal only because you have stopped paying attention.
  4. Like what you create. Your first audience is you because hopefully, you know what you like. Other people may not like what you like, but don’t worry about it. Your purpose in life isn’t to make everyone you.
  5. Don’t be elitist. It’s ok to not like a genre, a style, a voice. But yours isn’t intrinsically better just because you like it and others are talentless hacks. In fact, you can learn from those other ‘types’ that may be ‘beneath’ you. If not, then see #3.
  6. Collaborate with other people. Music can be done with more than one person. Share. Often. Don’t be too afraid or too proud to learn from others.
  7. Finish your songs. If you feel you want to save the awesome riff for a ‘better’ song, then steal it from yourself later. If you feel the words are clumsy in one part, no one listens to the words anyway. Just finish the song. If the song is strong enough in your repetoire that you repeat it enough, then you can change the song.
  8. Listen and support other people. If you hang out with other songwriters, they want to push their stuff just as much as you do. If it is clearly just a one way street, don’t be offended if they no longer wish to listen.
  9. Criticism – learn how to use it. Your worth as a human individual is not based on your talents, so don’t internalize the high school popularity mentality. Some may be right on how to make your song better, your voice better, your lyrics better. There may also be a level of talent which you cannot achieve. Deal with it and get on with what you can.
  10. Music is communal. It is meant to be heard by others. Learn to interact with others, accept others, and even enjoy others that are different from you.

If you thought these tips were long, heck, I had to shorten some of them.

2 Replies to “10 Tips for Songwriters”

  1. Greetings from a member of your Fawmily,
    I am always looking to songwriting tips, and since YOU posted it, how could I not check it out? Because you are awesome. Good tips all. I like #7. I do plagerize and pillage my own material.
    What is Stikfas, anyway?

    Sherry Canary

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