Here are 6 daily habits that every songwriter should follow. Try them and you’ll surely see improvement in your writing.
1. Write Daily.
Write daily. Free-writing daily for just 10-15 minutes can create a huge impact on your songwriting skills. Start today. Pick up a time which is best suitable for you. Like early in the morning after you freshen up, or evening, or at night before sleeping, whatever is comfortable for you. Maintain a notebook for free writing instead of writing at random places so that you have a record of everything you write. In case you don’t know what free-writing is, it’s just writing about a random topic and then letting the words flow. Pick up a topic and write anything that comes to mind. It doesn’t matter if you deviate from the topic. It’s actually good because your mind opens up that way. Heck, you don’t even need a topic to start with.
Just pick up your notebook and a pen, and start writing from whatever the first word comes to your mind. Trust me; all you need to do is start, and the words will just flow. Make this a habit and go through what you’ve written after you finish it. Focus on how you are describing things; whether you are using descriptions or senses while writing. Paying attention to details will help you improve and free-writing every day will make your mind active so that whenever you write a song, thoughts will just flow.
2. Record everything.
Let me tell you how I usually write songs. Ideas for a new song strike me(and everyone else, I’m sure) almost anywhere and anytime. While I’m having a late-night stroll, while I’m reading a book, watching a movie, in the toilet (Gross…sorry, but seriously. And I know you’ll agree!), while I’m playing random stuff on the guitar, etc. During the early days, I hardly felt the need to record them. But as time passed by, I realised that you will never get the same idea again; you need to note it down or record it on the spot. So I started saving everything. Sometimes I just save the ideas for later, while other times I start working on them on the spot. I start working on the song in the notes app itself. I use a notebook mostly when I need to brainstorm, otherwise it’s all on the phone. The melody usually comes along with words (which I later edit, after the whole song has been written) and I record everything on the voice recorder app. Sometimes I write just 2 lines, and sometimes the whole verse or chorus. It depends. But the main point here is, all my songs are initially scattered in the form of notes, voice notes and somewhere in the notebooks. And when I’m stuck somewhere, or I’m out of ideas, I just check back all the things I’ve recorded and everything I’ve written randomly. It always helps.
Record everything that comes to your mind. A melody, a phrase, a topic for a song, one-liners, new words you come across anywhere. Every single thing. You never know what might come in handy in your new song. Make sure you name your recordings properly so that you won’t have a hard time finding when you need them.
3. Maintain a journal.
Maintaining a journal not only helps you develop your writing skills, but also helps you keep track of everything that you experience daily. You can always use your daily experiences in your song. Maybe you can even write a whole song about a particular day in your life. You never know! You can also write about a particular emotion you are feeling, or a special event or some interesting incident. Plus, writing about your emotional state really helps you clear your mind, especially when you are sad or low. Describe your emotions thoroughly and independently. That way you can take a look at them when you want to write about a certain emotion in your song. You can take a look at all the words and metaphors you used to describe a particular feeling.
Apart from personal journal entries, you can also keep an account of your songs, stories related to your songs like when you got the idea, what the song is about, at which place you were when you wrote the song, etc.
4. Read, Read and Read.
Read something daily, a piece of fiction preferably, and take a look at different writing styles and different usage of words, metaphors, similes, etc. Observe how veteran writers describe things, what kind of words they use, how they create unique metaphors, and how they use senses in their writing. These are the things you learn only by observing and then implementing in your own writing. Note down the words and phrases that you find interesting. And along with all these things, make sure you enjoy what you’re reading; don’t just read for technicalities. Read for the joy of it. And read everything – novels, newspaper, short stories, blog posts, articles etc. Everything that excites you.
5. Learn new things on the instrument every day.
If you don’t play an instrument, consider learning to play one as soon as you can. Because you’re really missing out on new songwriting possibilities. If you already play an instrument, that’s great. Keep learning new things daily. Experiment with different chord progressions. Try new riffs and licks. You will definitely encounter cool new ideas while playing around and experimenting. Therefore, learning new techniques regularly will help you shape your ideas in new and unique ways. And also, the way you create melodies keeps improving that way. One of the most important out of all the daily habits that every songwriter should follow.
6. Listen to new music every day.
We usually listen to the songs that we already love. But as a songwriter, you need to listen to new stuff every day. New artists, new songs, different genres than you usually like. This helps you come across new styles of music and writing, and also broadens your mind to new possibilities. Even if you don’t pay attention to the details, new information is fed in your subconscious and you won’t even realize when it is being used. The subconscious mind is one amazing phenomenon!
These were 6 daily habits that every songwriter should follow. Do let us know your daily habits and exercises and how they help you. Thank you!
You can check out the Song of the Day section of the blog. I listen to new music everyday and share it here frequently.