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Clemo

Songwriting problems

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Hi all

i find it hard sometimes to write a song, having the song idea is always difficult, as well as trying to make the song lyric something fresh and interesting.

i wonder if others have problems too, and what do they do to get around them

all the best 

Mike

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I think there is a tremendous burden or at the least emphasis (especially on a site like this) to write something that is original (fresh?) and then......hmmmm "interesting?".  What is interesting? What is interesting to you may not be interesting to me.  Are we talking a universal,  one thinks everyone will find interesting?  That's hard to say unless you experiment and try new ideas out.  

 

Is it a problem to write a song you ask?  Meaning the complete package?  Answer: (For me) not able to say as I only write words.  Poetic. Sometimes lyrical, sometimes not so lyrical.  Is it a problem to write?  No, not at all.   Is it a problem to write something fresh or interesting?   Only if I initially try too hard or place too much emphasis on writing something original/fresh/interesting.  Meaning if I have to think about it then it can become a problem. The creative process for me is usually spontaneous. I go wherever it takes me and then reflect to learn.  The worst thing one can do (IMHO) is resist going in the direction one's river is flowing at any given moment.  Ride it, surf it and write it along the way.

Edited by spanishbuddha

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Clemo,

       I know where you’re coming from. I’ve been writing stuff down on little bits of paper going back to the late 70’s. Now i usually keep an Ipad or Ipod handy and write bits and pieces down as they come to me. Immediately or sometimes they’re lost forever. Usually just a line fragment, but sometimes a general idea without any specific words.

        Lots of times stuff comes to me when I’m exerting a great deal of energy, such as a demanding task in the construction of my house by the lake, or some other physical exercise. The repetitive nature of walking or bike riding creates a rhythm that sometimes gets an idea going. Sometimes it’s when I’m listening to some music and I stop the CD and get my idea written down fast. 

         I do a tremendous amount of reading, mostly books, but also online, newspapers or magazines, and in recent years books on CD. My ‘an old soldier’s last request’ was lifted from macarthur’s farewell west point speech, from his biography. I wrote another one from listening to a neil young biography on CD. I have an outline for one from a phil lesh autobiography. Another idea from a santana autobiography. Again, i stop and write it down as soon as it comes to me.  I travel a lot. Lots of layovers. New places get the juices flowing too. ‘Planes trains and automobiles’ was from some airport in the far east. 

        I have dozens of these ideas and idea fragments on ipods and ipads as works in progress. Some are quick. 15 minutes.  Some are slow. 30 years. For me though it’s write it down pretty damn quick and then i can relax because i know i can come back and find it. 

      

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Hi Spanish Buddha 

interesting, original and fresh fo me are the hard parts

good idea you have about going with the flow, and then at some point turning things around and surfing against it

ill keep that in mind, thanks 

all the best

mike

 

incedently are you Spanish and or a buddist please? 

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52 minutes ago, Clemo said:

Hi Spanish Buddha 

interesting, original and fresh fo me are the hard parts

good idea you have about going with the flow, and then at some point turning things around and surfing 

ill keep that in mind, thanks 

all the best

mike

 

incedently are you Spanish and or a buddist please? 

I get ideas all the time....trouble is, if I don't write them down, I often forget that small nugget that inspired the particular perspective. That's why I try to have a paper and pencil with me where ever I go. 

                                                           B)  -T

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Hi Kuya

thanks for your reply to my topic

like you I also have ideas when out walking 

And by the time I get back the ideas gone

im going to take a Pencil and notebook in future,

what's the betting I get nothing until  I forget to take them with me !

thanks again and all the best

mike

 

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4 hours ago, Clemo said:

Hi Spanish Buddha 

interesting, original and fresh fo me are the hard parts

good idea you have about going with the flow, and then at some point turning things around and surfing against it

ill keep that in mind, thanks 

all the best

mike

 

incedently are you Spanish and or a buddist please? 

Hi, Mike

 

No, I am not Spanish and a Buddhist?  Hmmm.  I think if you asked me that question 15 years ago I would have said yes.  Times change, people change. So, I will say.....philosophically I am Buddhist but no religious affiliations to date.  :P

 

You're probably wondering about my stage name.  If it interests you please let me know and I will be happy to shed light on it.  If I recall there's a thread with another musers curiosity at how we each arrived at our stage name and I once said to another muse member who I am friendly with outside of the site, that if anyone at the site ever asked me about mine, I'd post the origin to it which is amusing. 

 

As for the ideas or trouble at times coming up with something original. I hear you. Don't want to be misunderstood in what I said. In fact, I go through it and often but for me I keep writing even if it is something that I am not crazy about. In other words, don't be so hard on yourself.  Creativity is a series of highs and lows and even when things are crappy I find something good or funny in it that is enjoyable.   Got lots of writes, that I am not crazy about, but it keeps the motor running and challenges me to do better when I go with wherever it is my heart, mind and soul are at within a given moment and then take me! :)

 

Carl

Edited by spanishbuddha

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      I have to agree with what Carl was just saying about writing through some stuff he’s not crazy about as a way to get to the good stuff. When it rains it pours. The surest way for me to be receptive to a good idea is to be working through some other ideas i’m not so enthusiastic about.

       As often as not i’ll get 2 or 3 ideas at the exact same time for completely different lyrics. Because i’ve got the creative juices flowing. 

        I see Iron Knees has to write it down quickly or it might be lost. I think as more people respond that will be the common denominator. I also use a really cheap cell phone as i’m on the go and use the record feature/ dictate feature / voice recognition software to scribble something down. Sorting through the gibberish later. 

        I can go to the store for 5 things and not remember 3 of them if i dont have a list. 

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Hi folks

thanks for your advice, 

I Hopet to learn something new every day that was what my teacher once said he was 87 a grand master in martial arts

how much more is that true for us I wonder

All the best

Mike

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Here's a quote to live by: Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work. - Attributed to several authors.

 

There's not necessarily anything wrong with it being hard work, certainly there's nothing wrong with you or your writing Clemo. It sometimes is hard work, sometimes not. For some people it's always hard work (Read up on Leonard Cohen's take on songwriting). 

 

Most writers of song agree that the song will dictate how long it will take to write it, like Kuya say, some songs will only take 15 minutes, some 30 years. We never know. What we do know is that if we don't sit down and do the work, not much will happen.

 

The most important factor is the above mentioned quote, keep doing the work. Inspiration or not, just do it. A lot of ideas of mine come out from the actual work itself. Not necessarily the original idea I started out with, but during the work itself, my mind might come up with something else and just take off in a totally different direction which wouldn't have happened if I hadn't sat down in the first place just trying to grind my way through an uninspired idea. Do. The. Work.

 

Personally, I follow Kuya's advice, I try to fill my brain with as much reading as I possibly can, so when I sit down to work, and inspiration do come, I'll be ready with hopefully some good lines and phrases to start off with. Read books, poetry, articles, whatever you can get your hands on, take notes on phrases, possible titles and whatever is to your likings.

 

Two more things, 

 

1 - Don't be afraid to write bad stuff. We all do. I see my songs as they're standing in a long line waiting for their turn. Unfortunately I can not choose in which order to pick them, so lets say there's 3 bad ones coming up next, I can not skip them, I just know I have to write them before I can get to the good one which is 4th in line. And so forth...over and over again. No songwriter, pro or amateur, is excluded from writing bad stuff, it's just that we usually only get to hear the good ones and therefore think people only write them. Not true.

 

2 - The art of revising. When you write a song you don't like, it's neither the end of the world, nor the end of the song. Go back to it, revise it. What is it that you do not like? Lack of allusions? Then throw in some. Not strong enough verbs or adjectives? Then change them. Second verse sucks? Then write ten more and pick the best parts from it. Hard work you know, you've gotta love it!!!!! :P

 

Hope that helps!

 

Cheers,

 

Peter

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I have to agree with a lot of what is being said here.   For me inspiration comes from some very strange and unexpected places....it also seems to come at some strange times....like in the shower!   Of course, a place where neither pencils nor paper would survive for very long.. When I do get ...well...what I think is a good idea while in the rain room I just have to do the best I can to remember it until I can write it down.  I am an home appliance tech so I spend a lot of time traveling from call to call. I keep a pocket recorder in the van ...the mini cassette type, yeah I know, it's an oldie but it still works....anyway, I keep a recorder handy to jot down any ideas that I get and them transcribe them later.  A lot of my song ideas come from ..well, other songs.  Not direct ripoffs but just general type stuff. I like to listen to some of the college or community radio stations.  They play stuff that I've never heard before.....that search for that "new and fresh" that was mentioned earlier!  I've played in rock/country bands too many years and there is only so much classic rock, country, and oldies that I can stand anymore.   Now, most of my stuff is not worth the paper it's written on but I try not to let it discourage me from continuing to write.  You'll write a lot of bad ones before you'll have good one.

 

I heard the question asked over and over.."When writing, which comes first, the music or the words?"  When I do come up with a completed lyric I usually have a music and melody already figured out, the music and words seem to come together.  That's mainly the way I write.  I'd be interested to hear other's thoughts on that.  

 

Dominick

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i think the way i write songs, is to right down an emotion im feeling, anything sadness lonliness, i try to make really personal songs about my own life, and i think thats important. I also think you should remember when writing a song that song can fit into multiple different genres and no one can tell you differently. i think you shouldn't worry about writing new and fresh lyrics and just worry about expressing yourself that is just art being expressive letting you emotions your opnions be known. 

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For what it's worth-

for me, the words or the story come to me when I've found a groove or sound first. I'll pick around on the guitar until I've found an interesting sound. The music is a good muse. It always sets a mood, and then the muse-ic gives me words.  I also refuse to write anything down. This way I forget the forgettable and build on what I can't forget.

 

 

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On 12/7/2017 at 16:56, Clemo said:

Hi all

i find it hard sometimes to write a song, having the song idea is always difficult, as well as trying to make the song lyric something fresh and interesting.

i wonder if others have problems too, and what do they do to get around them

all the best 

Mike

Hi C

 

    I basically have enough half ideas on the shelf or in this case in the attic to revisit. Sometimes just revisiting an idea may even inspire a new one. Getting a cd by an artist you just heard of from somebody else can trigger creativity.

   Again, I don't strap on a guitar thinking,"yep, today Im going to create something." Just doesnt happen that way for me.

 

    There are times I have not touched my guitar for weeks, maybe even a month or to depending on what I had going on in my life or I was in a cover band and just didnt have the time to work out ideas. Again, I dont force things to happen. Sometimes you just have to wait for it to happen.

      Meanwhile, there's this daily thing called "life" and I live it and enjoy other things in it to make myself abit more well rounded. They say writing from life's experiences are sometimes the most honest or creative ways of being inspired to express yourself through music. Sometimes finding a co-writer is a way to branch out too. Maybe reading lyrics in the lyric forum might be a way to open a door to creativity.

     Anyways...Im lucky if I write 3-6 songs a year and I dont feel any worse about it if I dont write a completed one for the whole year. Enjoy life.

 

just my two cents worth

R-N-R Jim

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totally agree with R - You have to wait for the muse, you can't force it to come. I've gone days, even weeks without thinking about writing, and then something, somewhere, randomly gets my attention, and I'll start picking on the guitar. I think it is important that you don't write for others. Clouds the muse, worrying about what others might think. Make sure it's a genuine personal point that makes a statement, tells a story or simply entertains. Basically, write for you first. For me, sometimes it comes in floods, and I write 3-4 songs a week, and sometimes I spend the weeks recording what I already have, and sometimes I spend the weeks trying to kick ass at my day job :) 

 

My only real point... why are we writing songs? To work out our own demons, impress others or simply, it's better to pass the day with some music. Reminds me of a really old kris kristofferson song 'to beat the devil'. A classic songwriter's song for songwriters...

 

 

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I'm not so sure about this idea of waiting for a muse.

 

I find that, most times I sit down and write a song it's because I sat down and then wrote a song. That happens more when I do it regularly. One idea leads into another. If no ideas are coming I just keep playing until something does, assuming I have an instrument in my hands. Then again, "sitting down and writing a song" can also happen when I'm walking (maybe it's the rhythm) or doing some mundane task like jet-washing the decking. It's just that, in those circumstances, I write a song and then sit down to get it on paper.

 

Lyrically, the same is true. The more I write, the more likely I am to write something usable. I agree with the S - you need to do the work. 

 

Of course, there is nothing wrong with taking time off. We should write because we want to. But I think that's more about desire than inspiration.

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My thinking is more in line with Alistair and The S, work begets inspiration.  The same way that the roofing job you took in high school suddenly heightened your awareness of the caliber of roofs in the area, consistent writing makes you more attuned to new ideas and possibilities.  

 

It should be said that there are lots of ways to stay immersed without forcing yourself through one excruciating project after another.  If you're not writing, you might be tracking a new idea, or tackling an old mix with new experience, or digging through the archives of songs that you've been meaning to get to.  All of this reinforces to your brain that music and songwriting is important enough to allocate resources for, which in turn causes inspiration to "naturally" find you more regularly.  

 

At least, that's what years of songwriting has led me to conclude.  :)

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Oswlek and Alistair echo what I have heard so many times.

 

Listening to, and reading, interviews with a lot of songwriters over the last year or two has led me to be sure of one thing. Songwriting is about work. And while a song can just drop on your head from nowhere, it is the five hours of strumming chords or humming melodies you did before that attracts that song to you. 

 

It is amazing to listen to how many songwriters treat it as a job, and put in 6 hours a day of just trying to write a song, often ending up with nothing to show for it. They all seem to be aware that the song will come.

 

Best answer I heard (and unfortunately cannot remember who it was) when asked about how he handles writer's block was to suggest that nobody ever uses the phrase plumber's block, or carpenter's block. He just works on writing until something comes.

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Hi C

 

   Oh, did I mention sometimes when you buy a new guitar, that can spark a new interest in writing?:P

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I’m with the later post here. I never wait around for the muse to hit. My guitar and notebook are always near in my living room. Sometimes I grab the guitar and just jam a bit. If something sounds really cool I might record it with my phone. Because unlike what others have mentioned. I can’t remember shit. I don’t care how good it is. If I don’t record it, it’s gone forever. Sometimes I’ll grab the guitar with 100% intension to write a song. Usually coming out of the session with a rough draft. Sometimes more.  Other times I’ll just grab my notebook and write lyrics. That being said. I think that muse is always with me. I never don’t have any ideas. It’s actually the opposite. I have so many ideas I can never get to them all. 

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On Wednesday, February 14, 2018 at 15:48, The S said:

Second verse sucks? Then write ten more and pick the best parts from it

Best idea ever. I'll be using that one.

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Dagot'é 

 

This is a great topic thread. Sometimes, I don't know why, seeing that/how others are facing the same fights seems to help.

 

It strikes me that there's no one answer to this, as no two human-beings are alike.  Everyone's brain works differently, and we all have different experiences and other factors that make us up.  One answer might work for one group of folk, while the other groups need to find which trick or combination of tricks is right for them, I figure.  (uhm, that's what this whole thread's about, merágno! Where's your brain? 😏 )

 

For this desert-cat, it *used* to be that a line would come, then the rest would just flow out like Flash-flood in Monsoon.  If something forced me to break before it was finished, it was like losing a signal from space:  you might get *close*, but you'd never find it again.  And when I'd later write to finish what I had, the feeling and the need would be gone, the words would be blocky, stumbling, like crashing through a basement in the dark and/or like struggling to remember a dream that's beyond recollection.

Another way to say it would be that, once I sat down to finish, the original message in the signal would've finished while I'd no opportunity to follow it wi writing. So once I'd a chance to listen for the signal again, it'd moved on to saying something *else* so trying to bend the new message to fit a close-out for the first just didn't work;  the emotion of the original piece, the necessity, all of that would be gone.  

 

Now I'm fighting to rebuild my creative equipment.

 

Motion always helped, esp wi the right music playing.  It was like fuel for writing.  Before I could drive, I'd take long walks, starting by singing our Sunset song, then walking all the way across one town, into the industrial section of the next, that wonderful nighttime eeriness, then across the next town, then back, always wi a pad.

Being in bizarre, unfamiliar territory seemed to help... pulling our grey-ware out of familiar "safe" (as some 'd call it) complacent regions, seeing strange sights and listening for unknown sounds, looking for what we don't yet know, what we've no yet seen, I guess.  Maybe this idea might help some folk, here.  I would hope.

Driving is great, but the idea-feeling is often lost by the time there's a safe place to pull over... maybe it's the loss of the motion+music/point of spacetime that'd triggered the idea-feeling... enh, what do I know?

There must be a way around that.  Folks've suggested voice recorders... I've things to overcome regarding those, too, but it's probably the most worthwhile fight on this point, né?

 

One of the most ... "interesting" fights is against the doubts that rise to challenge and/or demean our words or ideas even before we find writing materials. 😏 {wry}  "It's too angry" "It's too personal/over-sharing", "It's too sentimental", "It's too clinical", "might this be too cliché", "too culturally obscure/there's nothing here that'd be *relatable* to most folks", "can this possibly be addressed wi'out being whine-whine bitch-bitch?" etc. 

Another "fun part" {wry} is figuring how to address complex long-duration issues about which Dominant Culture media keeps the majority ignorant.  How to address such wi'out giving a damn essay beforehand... henh {smgdh}

 

The tricks given in this thread are good reminders.  I've tried almost all of these more 'n once.  In my case, I figure I need to heal my brain a bit more, *then* maybe something will work. Still, I'll be hunting and fighting ("working") along the way, maybe finding the right factors, the right moment that'll bring some worthwhile connection and flow. 

 

(Also, most of my life, damn near all my imagery was of the Free Territories, rather than the "human world/urban concrete and steel" stuff, whereas it seemed everyone found it easier to make urban/human analogies etc... I grew up on the ancient stories, which were more Free/"Natural World" oriented, yet much of the music I liked reached out to the hominid world of concrete, steel, glass, and psychological/sociological needs, dysfunction, delusion, fear of everything outside city walls, Bravo Sierra intrigue, and the Colonials' Power-Greed Sickness. Also, lots of "relationship" writing;  I'm an "only child" who had to live in-between all worlds, so I never had much experience wi which to work on those sorts of song.

I never really grokked the latter "world" and the Dominant Euro-American Culture, but wanted to find a balance, find how to *think* the way it seemed most other upright-primates thought, so I could write for *them*, y'know?)

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