We've all heard those songwriters who brag about how many songs they've written - They write one song a day for a year, or spend a solid 4 hours every day songwriting. I once met a man who claimed to write 3 songs a day!
But sometimes I wonder - is that really something to be impressed by?
Sure, I could write three songs a day, but do I want to? Would I really be proud of those songs if I hadn't spend the time carefully crafting them and fine-tuning them?
I'll admit, I tend to lean more on the "quality" end of the spectrum - often times, I spend TOO much time on one piece of music. But I think going too far in the opposite direction is just as bad for songwriters.
So here's some advice for those of you who feel like you're cranking out a huge number of songs, but still don't have any you're really proud of:
Make sure you are spending the time fine-tuning your songs.
There are several stages to the songwriting process - the initial writing stage, the re-writing stage, and the fine-tuning stage. If you're cranking out 3 songs a day, I have a feeling you're skipping the last two stages.
So if you find yourself writing too many songs and not taking any time to edit or review them, take one song and spend some time with it:
Make sure every single lyric is something you're proud of.
Make sure every melody fits seamlessly with the chord progression.
Make sure the transitions connect the sections naturally.
Make sure there isn't a single part of the song where you know you're being sloppy or lazy.
Life experience is more important than songwriting experience.
When I was studying music composition, I met with a professor at another school who was an incredible Juilliard-trained composer. Guess how many hours she recommended I spend composing every day? 8 hours. On top of the 2 hours I was required to practice my instrument.
At first, hearing her preach about how I didn't spend enough time composing made me feel like a terrible composer - If that's what it takes to become a technically-perfect composer, then maybe I had chosen the wrong career?
Now I love writing music and composing. But I believe the thing that makes music interesting is the life experience and unique perspective of the writer. If you're spending 8 hours a day alone in a room, you're missing out on a lot of experiences that could potentially inspire your music.
I've said this before, but I don't think we're drawn to music because it's technically perfect, or because of the number of hours the songwriter puts into it. I think we're drawn to music because it's real, heartfelt, and inspired by life experiences.
Of course you should study your craft and put time into it. But don't assume that putting a specific number of hours into songwriting will make you or your songs "better."
It's all about balance.
I think too much focus on "quantity" - whether it's the number of songs you're writing or number of hours you spend songwriting can be detrimental to your music. But of course, the same goes for hyper-focusing on quality!
So decide what end of the spectrum you naturally fall: quantity or quality? Then push yourself to do the opposite this week.
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