The Wins of Finishing Songs
As we creep into the last couple of months I've been reflecting on my year as an artist, and am surprised that I've been able to recognize progress as a songwriter in a year that seemed to be a stand still for musicians. There has been a whole hell of a lot of negative in 2020. In the creator spectrum, it has been a year of isolation. Loss of live music, opportunities to network, and in person collaborations. But, I've found I've been able to advance my songwriting capabilities during the isolation.
My Songwriting Tips
Since I first started writing songs seven years ago, I often struggled with an unfulfilling songwriting process, where I would sing at the piano and create a beautiful idea just to walk away from it and never revisit it again. And if I did sit down to work on it, I would find myself getting distracted or creating a new, beautiful idea that joined the collection of unfinished songs that sat in my heart, crying out and longing to be born.
I obviously have completed songs over the last seven years, but they often seem far and in between and magical in their fruition. This year I really broke down several parts of me. Confronting perfectionism, unrealistic expectations, and a lack of discipline that was preventing me from really diving deeper into my art and finding fulfillment.
This year I have seen great improvement in my ability to finish songs and turn them into a tangible finished product. While there is no science to writing a song and I still do believe magic is always involved, the following is what led me to become a better songwriter this year.
Trust myself - I learned this year that are always two sides of me that show up when I create. 1. My creative soul longing to be heard, and 2. My critical self inserting self doubt and the perceived opinions of others. As I worked on gaining a deeper trust in my own thoughts and emotions, I learned to move forward with what I was creating instead of stopping and restarting over and over again.
Set short time constraints - A couple months ago I was facetiming my songwriting bestie, Lavendare, and shared this idea with him of a verse I wrote the night before. He challenged me to give myself an hour and finish the song. And low and behold I did. By doing this, I took a lot of the thinking out of my creative process. I just flowed and trusted the melodies I was creating and vibing too and kept going. The most important part about finishing your ideas when you have them is that you can always go back and edit a song over and over again. And that is easiest when a structure for it already exists.
Art is meant to be alive, not hoarded - and lastly, I learned that my music and ideas are meant to be created and exist in this world. They should not be kept inside my mind or as a forgotten voice memo. The time to create is NOW. And even if you are not ready to release your music, if you finish it, it will be there when you are.
This is my reflection on what I learned about my songwriting process this year. What have you learned and improved upon this year, despite the struggle?