Make Songwriting Easier
How to identify and solve the songwriting problems you create for yourself
“Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.”
Attributed to Henry Ford
Songwriting is difficult to start with, don’t make it harder on yourself.
To write excellent songs you have to balance interesting lyrics, with a memorable melody, supporting musical accompaniment, emotional performance, a great recording and effective publicity so your audience can hear it….
It’s difficult because there are countless variable to play with, from choosing what to write about, how to write and perform it.
Don’t waste time, making things more difficult with: negative attitudes and self deprecating thinking.
Make songwriting easier with a positive attitude… learn how to solve problems instead of examining problems!
Read about the solutions, after a review of common ways you make songwriting (and other things in your life) harder…
There are detailed action steps at the end of the article!
(Note: I outlined this article a few weeks ago put it aside. I pulled it out, added new action steps and finished it after reading Brent’s blog post on Songwriting Pro this morning. Thanks for the “reinspiration” Brent!)
How You Make Songwriting Harder
Negative self talk
Any statement that include a “no” in any form is a negative statement. The most damaging “no” is “never”
- I can’t….
- I won’t….
- I will never….
Stop self deprecating talk!
Don’t belittle yourself, don’t focus on your difficulties and weaknesses. Don’t put yourself down!
We say meaner things to ourselves than we would ever say to someone else!
Use “I want to” instead of “I should”
“I want” is a desire.
“I should” is an expectation you are putting on yourself, often it is one that you don’t really believe in… otherwise you would want to do it!
Don’t lay a guilt trip on yourself… decide what you want to do with your time.
Negative self stories
Any statements or stories that include:
- I’m bad at….
- I will never be able to….
- I don’t like to….
- I am weak at….
Are self reinforcing stories.
You get what you ask for, you become what you say to yourself.
Sometimes these stories are grounded in a past experience, but many of these memories seem more painful, embarrassing or traumatic than they really were. Think of them as a challenge to overcome instead of an obstacle or a reason stopping you from doing something.
I don’t particularly like my singing voice… I’ve disliked singing since I was a kid. I have told myself “I don’t like singing!” countless times. There are a few reasons and memories that started it, but I have done more damage to myself by repeating this “story” to myself. It became a mantra to avoid singing or situations where I might have to sing. It took a long time to get out of my own head and just cut loose and sing.
Taking vocal lessons helped the most… learning how to sing properly, by controlling my inhale, resonating properly and reducing tension by loosening up my throat and soft palate.
With proper training, I learned to sing better… then I began enjoying it!
What you say to yourself. Most of our self chatter goes unnoticed, it’s a constant background noise. Once you start listening for it, you can start doing something about the negative, self depreciating lies you are feeding yourself.
Some negative self talk is how we express self doubt… not believing in ourselves or our abilities. You can learn from your self doubt, especially when you are doubting your own songs: https://epicsongwriting.com/manage-self-doubt/
Try telling someone they are negative… the most common answer is: “I’m not negative!”
Thanks for proving my point….
The tough one is recognizing it in ourselves! When you are spinning on a problem instead of trying to find solutions to it, you are being negative. When you are having a conversation about a problem, you are being negative… think about fixing it, or changing how you react to the problem.
Stop making excuses for yourself and for others…
Excuse = I have no control because it’s not my fault!
I will occasionally tolerate explanations from myself, because they can help find solutions…
Explanation = I have control… if you are explaining “why it’s difficult”… “why I can’t” is just an excuse!
It’s Easier to Blame that to Solve
People avoid change or making an effort… some people seem to enjoy their suffering so much, they tolerate the problem. Instead finding a solution and acting on it, they would rather complain or make up excuses. If you can blame someone or something else, you don’t have to change, because it’s not your fault and there’s nothing you can do about it…
Blaming takes less effort than change… don’t get stuck in the blame zone!
How to Make Songwriting Easier:
Take Positive Steps
- What can you do to change the situation?
- What can you do differently? Pick one things to start with….
Take Action Every Day
Small steps on a regular basis add up to big progress.
Learn how to create a regular productive habit using
Daily Songwriting by clicking below:
Focus on 1 Thing at a Time
- Don’t overload yourself or expect too much at once.
- Break big projects or problems into smaller steps
Read more details in this article:
Create Solutions Instead of Examining the Problem
Examining the Problem is talking about and complaining about the difficulties and problems you face. State the problem then move on to spending time considering solutions.
Focus on solutions… then focus on acting on your solutions.
Take Control of Your Life and Your Inner Dialogue
- Rephrase your stories, reframe your stories
- Focus on your strengths
- Accept where you are… understand your weaknesses as part of what makes you a unique individual. Instead of complaining, decide on one thing you could do differently… and start doing it!
- Accept responsibility… instead of blaming the world, find ways to improve where you are in the world. Instead of saying “Nobody listens to my music” find ways to build an audience:
Replace negative self talk with positive self talk
Telling someone who is stressed out: “Don’t stress about it!” is frustrating. They get more stressed because if it was that easy, they would already be unstressed! Instead, you have to help them do something about the stress, to make progress towards solving the cause of the stress.
In the same way, you can’t simply tell yourself to “Stop the negative self talk” and expect success.
You have to replace it with positive self talk. One of the easiest solutions is to replace “I’m bad at….” with “I am getting better at….” (This works best when you are actively doing something to improve so you can believe what you are telling yourself)
For more ideas about replacing negative self talk, read this book review:
Choose 1 of these Acton Steps and write down your answers:
Action Step: Notice Your Negative Self Talk
- Start a fresh page in your songwriting notebook
- Set a timer for 10 minutes
- Write down all the negative self talk and negative stories you can think of
- Mark the page and add to it whenever you catch yourself
Action Step: Reframe Your Negative Self Talk
- Choose your most damaging self talk to start with….
- Rewrite your negative self talk, pick an example and change how you talk to yourself
- Rewrite your negative and self deprecating stories, pick an example and change how you tell the story
Action Step: How Can You Solve the Problem
- Pick a problem that is holding you back
- What are the causes of the problem?
- How do you contribute to the problem?
- What are the causes of the problem that are out of your control?
- What could you learn to improve the situation?
- Who can help you improve this problem?
- How can you change the situation? What can you do differently?
Action Steps: Find Solutions
- What do you want to do? What do you want to accomplish?
- Write down as many goals as you can think of….
- Pick 3 Goals (maximum) to work on right now
- What could you do to improve towards these goals?
- Pick 1 action for each goal
- Work on them everyday
Click below to learn how to
build solid, productive daily habits:
The opening quote “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.” is usually attributed to Henry Ford, first quoted in Reader’s Digest in 1947. After a little digging I found an interesting quotation website that traced variations of the quotation to other sources including the poet Virgil in “The Aeneid” written in 19 BCE. Nothing beats a little research!
Leave a comment to help other songwriters:
How can you rewrite one of your negative self stories?