This afternoon I was exploring an old blog of mine and came across a wonderful essay on songwriting that I found back in March of 2005. Thought I’d publish a small excerpt of the work here. Hope you enjoy it… J
“Most writers of literature force themselves to write at least a certain amount every day, whether they feel inspired at first or not. If you do this and approach it in the right way, you often find that the inspiration does come, and come more often, so one way around writer’s block is just to say ‘screw you, writer’s block’ and just get on with it. Try writing at least three times a week, and write a song about anything. You can improve rough ideas later if there’s a hint of promise. The point is that it can be useful to get your brain out of the habit of thinking it needs inspiration or special conditions. It’s easy to think that you may be suffering from a lack of imagination, when with a little effort you can in fact exercise the imagination anywhere at all. Some of Dylan’s best songs were written in less than an hour, so it’s said. It must be nice to be able to do that, but it’s my guess that the great man himself would be the first to admit that in the early days he learned how to write songs, and sweated like the rest of us to be master of his CRAFT. Doubtless he learned from other people too (Woodie Guthrie, Dylan Thomas?) before finding his own unique voice. There’s the old adage about art being ‘90% perspiration and 10% inspiration’! For most of us that’s probably true. If you train yourself to write something at least every three days or less then it seems that the Muse will want to talk to you more. (But the process of learning how to craft good commercial songs might well take years of hard work. -Sorry, but a bit of realism’s no bad thing).
To outwit the inner policeman and make contact with the Muse we often need to let go of our perceived boundaries, and let our instincts override our minds… New experience is often a good source of inspiration. Try playing an instrument that you don’t normally play. Sometimes the sound of a different guitar or a new keyboard sound will inspire you to think of new material. Find a coffeeshop/hangout/bar/bowling alley that you haven’t been to before. Go alone, observe and open yourself to everything you see and hear. Learn a new chord, a new progression, or cover a new song -set yourself new musical challenges.
Down in the underground tunnels there’s a blinding flash at the workface- the Muse has used a stick of dynamite to reveal lots and lots of glitter in amongst the smoke. So let go of everything until you’ve mined the seam completely! Don’t worry about finding the perfect nugget now -you’ve struck the mother lode (ie it’s better not to ‘edit’ too much at this point) -let’s just get all these rocks out before the roof collapses. You can crush the stones and pan for the nuggets at your leisure (and make some darn good well-crafted jewellery out of ’em too, hopefully). If things are working (and you are finding some good ideas/lyrics) then don’t worry about punctuation or capital letters or whether it’s in a complete sentence or whether it rhymes or (sometimes) whether it even makes sense. Lose your inhibitions. It’s better out than in.”
Source: http://www.feedback.nildram.co.uk/richardebbs/essays/songwriting.htm (as of 9/17/09, jn)