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  • Noob

As I'd assume anyone reading this could clearly see, let me start off by saying that I am new to this website and your forum, having registered my account within the last ten minutes alone. With that being said, let me apologize if this topic is in the wrong place, I trust however that this should be in a decent spot.

So let's get to the topic at hand; I'm having trouble writing songs. Not necessarily writing, I can write easily. My trouble lies simply with finishing songs. I can come up with chord progressions and lyrics with ease (most of the time), but my real problem is that my mind works too fast, I get too impatient, I guess you could say, and the songs end up barely finished or not finished at all. A large part of this reason is because, and I hope many of you can agree with me on this one, but my mind thinks of too many ideas for one song, and without a stable band to back me, it's very difficult to manage them all into the single song.

I know I shouldn't try and write the most complex song in the world, and I don't, but there are times where the generic "verse-chorus-verse-bridge" style just gets... sickening. So, as mentioned earlier, and advice, tips, or stories of similar problems would be greatly appreciated.

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Hi Nalejavi

Welcome to Songstuff! If you would like, drop a short intro post in the Introduce Yourself board. The board is used regularly so if there is any discomfort in talking about yourself at least you will know that it is something we have all felt at some time or another.

Finishing songs.... can i ask if you do much editing? Writers can be impatient, it is a fact of life. Many new writers can neglect other phases of songwriting after drafting. They create a draft... and that is all it remains. Still, on some level, many writers (particularly new ones) are dissatisfied with the standard of their lyrics. They see the work others do and wonder how they achieve such work. The key word in there is "work". It takes effort and discipline to progress as well as a fair amount of self-awareness and a willingness to experiment and learn from your efforts and those of others. That and lots of writing!

It's great that you can write your songs, but it is pretty essential to edit your songs, go through several passes each time looking at how the lyric can be improved without being too precious of what you have written so far. Finishing a song is part of this process.

So, ask yourself why don't you finish your songs? What happens? Do they get boring? You don't know what to do with them? What makes you move on?



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Ithink I know what you mean and I had a similar trouble as you can tell if you listen to some of my earlier songs. But I learned (for me) that I had to write down the lyrics, chords, etc.. and even record a hum or song of the tune no matter how lame or incomplete it felt. I would then take a break from it then after some time go back and listen to it. This would help me find problems or come up with different ideas that would end with a completly different song from where i started.

Hope this helps.

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You just need to pull your head out and focus. Believe me, I'm telling myself this all the time... I understand the problem, but within that catalog of ideas you've generated there must be (surely at least) one that really deserves to be finished and see the light of day. So put in the work and finish it. That's where inspiration becomes perspiration...

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  • 4 weeks later...

To me, there are two distinct parts to the process: (1) capturing a musical idea, and (2) developing it into a song. I don't know if it's really possible to do both of these things at the same time. So, "when the ideas are flowing," just capture them any way you can. A tape recorder (or, these days, your phone...), a hasty scribble if you know how to write music. Literally, whatever works.

Eventually, this improvisational process will wind down. You'll have a lot of "stuff." Some of it will sound very repetitive. Some of what's on the tape is nothing more than "dah de-dum de-dah," with not so much as the faintest suggestion of the complete symphony orchestra or the killer hard-rock band that you heard in your mind's ear. C'est la guerre... But if you take the time to capture it all, carefully and completely, it can never "get away." (You can add that killer guitar riff later ... you can write the part.)

Treat everything that you write with respect. In other words, "keep it all." Instead of writing a big red "X" through it and ripping it in half, write a neat, small "X" in the margin (along with today's date) and shove it into a nearby banker's box. (Take the time also to put a title or project-name on the scrap as well.) Or, put the electronic file into a folder named "Trash Can" that nonetheless isn't the "real" trashcan. Let the backup system run once-an-hour like it always should. Disk space is cheap; so is paper; so are banker's boxes. You wrote it... you put time and human effort into it... and, who knows, you might be going back through your "boneyard" someday and find the perfect riff, or the (re-)inspiration for one. (Great thing to do as a warm-up.) Keep a diary or journal: thoughts are fleeting. And of course, that notepad by the bed, along with a "iddy biddy book light" to avoid waking up the spouse (or the cat, who will wake up anyway and insist on a midnight snack).

Those pieces that you at first impulse would have "ripped up and thrown away" might well prove to fit into the overall puzzle somewhere: you just couldn't see how they could fit at the time. Plus, there is a lot of choice involved, and it always helps to have plenty of things to choose from.

"Developing a song" from all those ideas is a much more deliberate exercise, literally picking-and-choosing in order to assemble these disconnected musical thoughts into musical sentences and paragraphs. At this point you're not so much "looking for new material" as trying to choose what to do with what you have. This is where you'd love to be able to "surprise" your ear with something that's a bit unexpected, thus putting your ear into the place of being "a member of the audience" rather than always "the conductor." You might think that it's all just absolute junk ... going nowhere at all ... and then... The geode falls open and there are diamond-like crystals inside. The work paid off. (And to think, just a little time before, it looked like nothing more than an ugly rock.)

Edited by MikeRobinson
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Not every song we write will be great, not every song will be good, not every song will be ok, not every song will even be bearable; some will be just crap. You might put the same or more effort into it but it will still be just crap. Our subconscious minds know this and so songs are left unfinished. As long as they're unfinished they still have potential; once finished - just crap.

The crap, bearable, ok and good songs have an important function -- they build the skills we need to create the great songs.

Finish every song. You need the experience. And it might just pay off someday.

Every writer has greatest inside him.

Keep writing,


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