How To Think Of Ideas For Writing Songs By Eliminating 4 Songwriting Mistakes
by Ryan Buckner
© September 2013 Ryan Buckner. All Rights Reserved. Used By Permission.
Before you can become an excellent songwriter, you must have the ability to consistently put together great ideas for writing a song. That said, if you are like most songwriters, you sometimes have a hard time thinking of songwriting ideas and it takes you a long time before you are able to put a song together (if you ever do). Fortunately, there are four (quickly solvable) mistakes that you can fix that will drastically increase your musical creativity and help you come up with songwriting ideas much faster.
With this in mind, here are two steps you should take right now to get started on creating tons of new ideas for writing a song:
Step One – Find solutions to why your music doesn’t currently sound the way you want it to by downloading and studying this free songwriting guide about creating music that sounds great. This will jump start your songwriting to help you quickly think of new ideas.
Step Two – After you have downloaded the guide from step one, continue reading through the ‘songwriting mistakes’ in this article and use it (along with the advice I offer) to significantly improve your songwriting.
Here are four common songwriting mistakes that will keep you from thinking of a lot of new ideas for writing a song:
Mistake Number One – Not Writing With Multiple Instruments
Do you often try to write ideas for songs using ‘only’ the instrument you are good at? Most musicians use this exact same approach and frequently struggle to think of great ideas in their songwriting. Why does this happen? When you only use one instrument for writing songs or musical ideas you not only limit yourself to the same ‘usual’ set of techniques or patterns that you are used to playing but you also limit yourself to the specific style and overall sound of the instrument itself. For example, if you always write on guitar, you will be more likely to play the same licks and phrases over and over. This will limit your music to a ‘guitar songwriting style’ that will make it difficult to write for other instruments you may want to include in your songs. Instead of doing this, choose a few additional instruments and learn how to write song ideas with them. This will open up your songwriting to a new dimension of possibilities and make you a much more well-rounded musician.
Mistake Number Two – Making Your Music Too Complex
Songwriters who have a hard time thinking of new ideas for writing a song continually ‘overcomplicate’ their music. For these musicians, their main method for thinking of new ideas is simply adding on more notes until something finally ‘sounds cool’. The problem is, using this approach frequently takes them a very long time to think of cool songwriting ideas and more often than not results in a big complicated mess. The reason this happens is the songwriter just tries to improvise ideas until something finally ‘sticks’.
To avoid the problem of over-complicating your music, instead focus on using a more ‘simple’ approach. Certainly it is cool to write complex and engaging music, however, when you are struggling to think of new ideas for writing songs you will come up with ideas much more quickly by starting things off simple. In other words, start your songwriting session with just a few chords or a short melody and really focus on getting the very most expression out of just these basic things. Then later after you have worked on these ideas, you can come back to them and ‘add on’ to them to make them more complex if you like (for help with this, study this free songwriting eBook on how to write great music).
Mistake Number Three – Not Saying Anything Through Your Music
Part of what makes music so powerful is its ability to express specific ideas and emotions that the listener can connect to. It is for this reason that you are severely limiting yourself as a songwriter when you do not take the time to think about what you want to ‘express’ BEFORE you get started coming up with ideas for a song. It is common for musicians to ‘only’ focus on writing cool sounding chord progressions or melodies. However, this approach almost always causes them to quickly run out of ideas because they have no true ‘foundation’ for what they are writing.
Of course you can write cool ideas here and there by only focusing on the musical aspects, but you can create endless ideas for songwriting once you know ‘what’ you want to express in the first place.
Whenever you go to write a new song, invest time into thinking about the specific thoughts, ideas and emotions you want to express in your music. By doing this, you will greatly enhance your ability to think of new ideas for songwriting because you have narrowed down your options for ‘anything’ to one specific topic. For example, once you know that you want to write a song that expresses the emotion of ‘anger’ it will be much easier to think of ideas for your music because this emotion lends itself to various musical techniques such as using faster rhythms, involving dissonant harmony and so forth.
Mistake Number Four – Underestimating (Or Ignoring) The Power Of Practice And Progress Measurement
Countless songwriters take a very long time to improve their music and develop a large pool of ideas for writing songs because they never actually ‘practice’. Unlike practicing an instrument, many musicians believe that you only get better at songwriting slowly over time after you have written enough songs. However, this mindset is deeply flawed. Truth is, the best way to become a great songwriter (fast) is to continually practice to improve your songwriting in many different areas while tracking your progress along the way. You do not ‘have to’ write entire songs in order to become a great songwriter. Of course you do want to write songs, however you can quickly build up the quality of your songs and ability to think of creative musical ideas by working to improve on individual aspects of songwriting such as writing melodies, using rhythm more creatively, using harmony to enhance a vocal line, etc. The bottom line is, you must continually ‘practice’ these things with intense focus and not just ‘expect to get better’ after writing an unknown amount of songs.
Now that you have learned four huge mistakes that are ‘limiting’ your songwriting plus the solutions to help you solve them, get started implementing these ideas into your songwriting right away. By doing this, you will quickly see progress in your ability to come up with more/better ideas for your songs. Use this free songwriter’s guide to writing good music to help you write songs the way you want them to sound.
About the author:
Ryan Buckner is a professional guitarist and songwriter. On his website songwritinglessonsonline.com, he helps musicians create music with through his songwriting mini course and free songwriter resources.