Sunday, May 23, 2010

Stages of songwriting

Lately, the writing of my songs has followed a similar pattern. It goes something like this:
  1. The idea

    Hey, that's a great line/melody/concept/whatever. Let's explore this further!

  2. Initial efforts

    One-stanza verses will probably work for this song. Here's a good rhyme for that first line I wrote.

  3. Stumbling blocks and avoidance

    I don't know how to write my way out of the issue I'm having. I can't think of any more words. I'm bored. Let's do something else.

  4. Long period of inactivity

    La la la la la.

  5. Self-discipline

    Dammit, I don't care if you're not feeling inspired right now. We are going to MAKE ourselves think about this.

  6. Slow regaining of interest and momentum

    I made a rhyme! Yay!

  7. Total obsession

    What could go here? What could go here? What could go here? What could go here? What could go here? What could go here?

  8. Completion

    Did I just finish this thing? Yeah, no blank spaces left. I wrote a song! Go me!
It's a process that mostly works, I suppose. I just need to eliminate step #4.


DeppityBob said...

I'm wondering where denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance come in.

cinderkeys said...

Somewhere between admitting we had a problem and making a fearless moral inventory.

John Wenger said...

It seems to me that when it comes to writing prose, you have none of these problems. The stuff you write is effortless and brilliant. Do you have any idea how good it is?

cinderkeys said...

Wow, thanks. But it sounds effortless because you're reading my final drafts. An essay doesn't reveal how long it took to write it, or how many times it was revised.

David Powell said...

I am so, so familiar with #3-7. Wish I were more familiar with #8.

cinderkeys said...

There's a distinct advantage to creating works that clock in at around 2.5 to 5 minutes.

Jannie Funster said...

After my obsession phase I often have a cooling-off period. Do you?


Nunber 4, ah number 4, I struggle with that too. :)

cinderkeys said...

A cooling-off period is pretty normal. It depends on how quickly the actual results come once the obsession begins. But at least it's still easier to step back in -- the spell of avoidance is more likely broken.

Tom Slatter said...

I don't think number 4 is a bad thing.

In fact I think it might be necessary - sometimes a song needs to be left alone at the back of your subconscious to ferment and mature.

cinderkeys said...

I agree in principle. I may be at that point now with the latest song, or at least the part of the song currently giving me trouble. But how long do you think the fermentation period should last? A couple of weeks seems OK. A couple of months might be excessive, unless you're dealing with a much deeper problem than "what can I rhyme this with."

(BTW, you got my 10 Tips e-mail, right?)