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The Challenges - Your Opinion

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Hi gang

At this point I thought it a good idea to get some opinion...

What do you think of the challenges (1-9) thus far? Are they challenging enough? Interesting? Are they stretching your writing skills?

In terms of new challenges, is there anything you wold like to see? Or like to see more of? Are there any improvements ou would like to see?

Thanks for your consideration and feedback.



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I'm the new boy here. I have looked over the previous challenges though.

All the ideas are quite good, but very easy. Is this deliberate? Is it designed to encourage people?


To me, these have to be a personal challenge too. I wont spend more than 15 minutes on one.



However, I did make a 2 or 3 lyric titles worth preserving this way in the past. The idea was to suggest a title and whoever wrote a lyric for it would then suggest another title. I still have these in my lyric folder. They all took much longer than 15 minutes though.

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Very deliberate Rudi, the initial idea being to look at fundamental skills, and to go round songwriter's skills making sure to address many common skills and issues. Challenges will have a variety of levels of difficulty (challenge) involved, but much of the challenge is, as you say, personal. By having relatively simple challenges on the surface, writers can relate to them no matter the level of their writing, making them more or less difficult on a per lyric basis. Yes there is an element of encouraging people to take part, but I think it also depends on where writers see the challenge. By varying challenges passed suggested title into using skills and form and topic etc it allows me to vary the constraint on creativity and the focus of the writer, while often leaving huge room for writers to do their own thing, plus writers get to come out with uniquely titled works.

The lyrics title game you suggest could still be run. The topic no doubt still exists. Unlike this challenge group it relied on participants being willing to both write and set challenges and it withered as interest waned, but I see no reason why it couldn't work again. There is another lyrics game group but I don't think it is very active, I could be wrong.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I look to write in a commercially viable way. (I may or may not achieve that, but that is my aim.) And I have pretty much stuck to the AABABCB format because that seems to be the most successful song form over the last couple of years. (measures by #1s) To be challenged to writing in a different form as well as different genre from that which I feel more comfortable has been an eye opener for me.


The amount of fun and interaction this group has generated over the last couple of challenges has added an element of entertainment to the challenge as well.


I'm sure John could have had us scratching our heads and come up with nothing if he had chosen to set the goalposts that high, but what would that achieve? We have each written at least one new lyric each week for nine weeks. Can you imagine writing nine new lyrics over the next nine weeks? Okay maybe you can, can you count on it though?


I've loved the brief given to us by John's alter ego publisher, and has really surprised me... I never thought I'd write lyrics for a pop song! I also enjoyed the team challenge. Some of us never get to work with other writers, and that forced the issue, whether needed or not.


Where to go from here? 


Now is a good time I guess to say that in coming weeks I may not have as much time to devote to these challenges as I have had. I begin a 20 week songwriting course on Sunday 15th Sept that I have been looking forward to commencing. I don't know at this stage how much free time I will have, and assignments for the course will take priority for me. 


Having said that, I still think there are many avenues the challenge group could explore:

* Writing lyrics to a common melody

* Writing a chorus to a given verse

* Writing new lyrics to a well known song (even Paul Simon does this, I've read, and then he writes a new melody!)

* Writing some verses to a common chorus

* Writing bridges to lyrics lacking such

* Writing to specific structures eg, 6 line verse and 4 line chorus with a 2 line bridge

* Writing from different perspectives

* Writing about different trauma - loss, injury, heartbreak

* Writing about a common incident/topic

* Writing to a common title

* Editing a common lyric that is poorly written


(By common I mean we all have the same stimuli, not something commonplace,)


There are many challenges ahead and it will be interesting to see where John takes us. I may or may not have time to participate each week, but I'll be around.



Edited by Kel
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John, for me, I'm amazed at the incredible support I receive on my writing. This group is fantastic, as far as helping one another. Your challenges have been not only fun. but educational for a novice writer, like myself. I look forward to sharing suggestions and encouraging other members in this group. I would like to see us write different genres, like we just did with the Blues Challenge. Maybe, rewrite a popular song like Kel, suggested. Take a poem and rewrite it into lyrics for a song. 



Goldy :jumping38:  :jumping25:  :jumping13:  :heartpump:  :hug:

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  • 1 month later...

Good ideas Goldie. I 2nd them (3rd them too where Kel is concerned).



A re-write of 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' would generate some very different responses I think.


It would be nice to have a more extended feedback close to the challenges where we could articulate what we have gained, learned etc. (as long as its not all mawkish).

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Hi, John. I can't say too much as I just came in and only have done the first challenge. It seems there is good participation and people at all levels, which is nice. It looks like the challenges progress as the weeks go on, which is also nice.


I'm wondering if every once in awhile there should be a rotation of "new" people...pick a day to welcome new people in and each "group" starts at the same time. It's kinda lonely at the bottom, but at the same time, haven't "grown" with the first group. Just a thought. It might also entice new people to come in rather than overwhelm them with "what they've missed". It's not so much that I couldn't jump in where you all are, but personally...I guess I have a little self-diagnosed OCD? lol



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Hi Cheryl,


Jump into the next challenge by all means, catch up with the previous ones in all your spare time (*cough!)!



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I'll try! I feel like I'll be missing something if I jump ahead, no?

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I've only just begun (with #16), but have read through the other challenges. Good ones! I wish I'd had time to do the Abstract one and the Folk Song. I love that 'cut up' method of creating lyrics, and I really like folk songs. Mind you, mine are mostly set a couple of hundred years ago. ;)


I was glad to see that once the challenges got underway, discussion began to take place. I'm with Rudi, in that it's valuable to have feedback and discussion close to the challenges.


Several ideas Kel mentions are good as well. I especially like the 'ghost' approach - which, as Kel mentions, Paul Simon uses too - whereby we take a well-known song, write a completely different lyric, and then change the melody. I've found this to be a very useful exercise.


It's also fun to get several titles from a random title-generating tool, and combine the titles/lines to create a relatively cohesive lyric. 


Another exercise I found interesting was to write a lyric based on a photograph.

Fun too is to write something based on a card from a set of any kind. Or from the zodiac, or the Chinese horoscope (e.g. the different animals - pick whichever animal one is). Endless. :)


Other good sources of inspiration are sites like postsecret.com and dearoldlove.com. 


For me, they've been a treasure trove. :)


(I realise that most of the above have more to do with what to write about, rather than the basic art of crafting, which might be what you prefer to focus on, John. :))

Edited by DonnaMarilyn
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