Updated: Jul 23, 2019
Writing songs doesn't just "happen", well, not usually anyway. People sit down with an idea, or a melody, or a few words, and craft it into a full blown song. Once in awhile a song will just emerge nearly complete, and the songwriter is struggling to write it down as fast as it's flowing. Much of the time, however, the songwriter is sitting, staring at the page, or playing the melody over and over, trying to figure out what the next line, or even the next word, is going to be.
Writing songs isn't always "easy", and sometimes quite painful. Part of the reason for that is that, as songwriters, we want the song to be "perfect". So, we will struggle over the details, trying to figure what line, word or thought is "just right" for this place in the song. Because we often can't come up with that "perfect" phrase or line or word, many songs end up either scrapped or put in some pile or folder of "unfinished songs", some of which may eventually be revisited, and finished, but many of which will never become a complete and finished song.
The problem with filing those songs in that "unfinished" pile is that often there is psychological impact. By that I mean that in the back of our minds we often keep a list of our "successes" and "failures".. not just songwriters, but pretty much everyone, and about a variety of things. As songwriters, when we can't manage to finish a song, it chalks one up in the "failure" category, and as that list grows, we can often begin to mentally feel like we have "writers' block", and it *can* (though it doesn't always) create a sense of "I'm probably not going to be able to finish this song, because I have writers' block" syndrome.
Looking back over the last few years, I realize I have written maybe 3 to 5 songs or so a year on average. But I have STARTED probably at LEAST one song a week. Had I finished all those, I would have written 52 songs a year, or even if I finished half of those, 26 songs a year. Some of those songs probably didn't meet my standards, and even if I had written them, I might not have performed them. But, who knows, some of the songs that songwriters/artists have thought the least of have ended up being some of their more popular ones. Thom Yorke, of RadioHead, wrote their massive hit, "Creep", and he would often refer to it as "Crap" instead when people asked about it, because he didn't think much of it.
I have decided to give myself a challenge, and I'm going to invite you to try it out as well. For the next 7 days I plan to write...and finish...1 song a day. 7 days, 7 songs. Ok, I'm giving myself a bit of an 'out'. I will consider it a success if I manage to write 5 songs, because there MIGHT be a day or two I just can't complete the song. If so, then I will make sure to finish one the next day. I won't allow that to happen 2 days in a row. With that goal, I am going to force myself to violate my own standards of "perfection". That means I can't just stop because I can't figure out the "right" or "perfect" word or phrase. If I can't come up with some "perfect" then I'll just have to write something "that will do". This exercise is NOT one designed to write 7 GREAT songs.. maybe not even 7 GOOD ones. If I'm lucky, maybe 1 or 2 will turn out to be decent.
The goal is to force myself to push past the self imposed roadblocks that I sometimes throw in the way, and to complete 7 (or at least 5) songs in a week's period of time. As I do so, I'm going to post a blog each day with the song. Today's song is "You Don't Know Me". Here's the song.
Next, if you are a songwriter (or want to be, or even like to write poems), I'd invite you to try this challenge yourself. Pick a start date, and for 7 days try to churn out 7 songs (or poems). I'd love to see/hear the results of your 7 day challenge, so come back and share what you come up with!
-♫ M ♫-