What I am about to tell you is the most important lesson for songwriters, but still so many of us refuse to believe it, or put it to practice. How do you get good at something? You simply do it over and over again. So how to get better at songwriting?
Books can only teach you so much. I never had a single lesson on songwriting. A friend of mine spent two years in a rock school, where he had weekly songwriting lessons. In the end he gave up music as in his own words he did not have good songs. So as you can see, songwriting is one of those crafts, where we can teach you the techniques, but at the end of the day, you need to learn yourself how to write the songs.
I actually been thinking about how songwriting is being taught in music schools. I would struggle to teach anybody songwriting for a semester… Sure I could do it, analyse the songs of a great song writes, come up with songwriting assignments and give an overview of the technical side. But what I could do really well is coach. I could do a good hour-long session where I could show how to break creativity block, and how to improve your story, write the song from the perspective of the listener and a lot more. But after that it would be up to you to go out there and write those songs.
Allocate time every day, even thirty minutes a day and write. Write if it rains or shines. Write if you are on the mood for it or not. Every day, week, month and year. Soon enough you will see a big improvement in your song writing.
There are no short cuts, or secret tricks. It all comes down to working on your craft, putting in the hours and in the process getting good at it. In my personal experience also sharing the process with people, does give you more perspective on the work. It also makes you more countable.
I’ve been writing songs since I was fifteen, but in the past two years I probably wrote more songs, than I did in the ten years before it. I did it because I committed to write, record and post a new song every week on my website. By publicly committing to this schedule, I made myself countable. I made my self share something every week, and if it was not “good enough,” I’d only had myself to blame.
This has been the best way to make sure I work as hard as possible on every song. And what does it come down to? You need to put the hours in. You want to be a better songwriter? Write more, write every day, and finish every song. Don’t make excuses, don’t give yourself a “way out.” Songwriting is not some mystical event, where the stars need to be aligned correctly for you to be able to “create.” Songwriting is a craft, that requires you to do the work.
The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE