Exploring and enhancing the healthy side effects of songwriting to help your songwriting process!
I gave up songwriting… I went almost a decade without it. I needed it but ignored the call and I let life get in the way.
When I finally put a stop to the “block” and started again, there were some false starts and setbacks. Sometimes songwriting felt great, but it was inconsistent. I gradually increased how often and how much I wrote. At first the songs were mostly terrible, but it felt good to be writing again.
Now I regularly work on my songwriting and I’m stronger and healthier for it!
I found consistent habits were the key to my return to songwriting… but it was the healthy side effects that kept me coming back for more:
The 7 Healthy Side Effects of Songwriting
- Emotional Self-Therapy
- Improved Problem Solving Skills
- Increased Creativity
- Focus on Now
- Improved Observational Skills
- Enhanced Imagination
- Bonus Effects
1. Joy in Songwriting
There are struggle days, and disappointments… but most of the time, writing songs should be fun and bring joy to your life. It’s exciting to learn how to drop into the flow and create something nobody has ever heard. If songwriting isn’t fun, so engaging you lose track of time while you’re doing it, then it’s likely you’re doing something wrong… or your expectations are higher than you can reach right now.
2. Emotional Self-Therapy Through Songwriting
“Playing music is cheaper than therapy” is an old musician’s joke.
When you channel emotions into your songwriting, singing or playing… you access emotions without reliving them. You recall them without being overwhelmed. You express your emotions, instead of bottling them up. You can flush out negativity, toxic emotions, clear the garbage out of your head and process emotional turmoil or problems by writing about your experiences and feelings.
My favourite self-therapy is to rewrite my personal stories, changin pity to empowerment. For example: instead of focusing on “I’m a mess because you left me!” try “I’m better off with you gone!”
As a bonus, because you’ve activated your emotions safely through music, you can feel more balanced and in control of your inner emotional life.
3. Improved Problem Solving Skills from Songwriting
Writing a song is answering a series of questions, or solving several related problems…
- What to write the song about?
- Which to write first… lyrics, melody, chords?
- What to say about it?
- Which words to use to explain it?
- Which section to put each idea for the best effect?
- What melodies and chords to support the lyrics?
I think of songwriting as solving a puzzle, with each choice or decision in the songwriting process as a further step in finishing the puzzle.
4. Increased Creativity in Songwriting
Songwriting, like other creative acts, is making novel connections between different ideas and developing innovative patterns. Sometimes the relationships are obvious but you use new ways to describe them, other times you create connections that are atypical or surprising.
This is often called “lateral thinking” or “thinking outside the box.” or as I like to say… “there is no box!”
My best song ideas and titles have two ideas that normally don’t fit together, the song explores the friction between them.
5. Focus on Now While Songwriting
“Falling into the flow” or “writing from the heart” or “being in the zone” are common phrases for songwriting at its best, when you forget about everything around you and just write. You’re committed to what you’re doing and you’re in the moment. It’s addictive once you learn how to do it!
Clearing your head, instead of listening to the chatter of your internal dialogue, is helpful in songwriting, playing music and in your life, too.
Learning to clear your head, instead of listening to the chatter of internal dialogue, is useful in songwriting, music performance and in your life too. When you’re creating, you are committed to what you are doing and in the moment, instead of being distracted.
Writing freely, without letting your inner editor distract you, teaches you to focus on creativing.
6. Improved Observational Skills from Songwriting
When you look around, listen and really pay attention, you’ll find songwriting inspiration all around you. Notice the details of life, how people move and interact, what people say (and don’t say)… truly see the little details, you’ll start hearing song ideas everywhere!
7. Enhanced Imagination from Songwriting
Songwriting is imagining ideas and sounds, then finding a way to write and play and record them for your audience. The more you work out with your imagination, the stronger it gets. Especially if you have a workout plan and feed your imagination healthy thoughts!
Bonus Songwriting Side Effects…
Because this is EPICsongwriting you should always expect extra!
8. Refined Communication
Songwriting is communicating, emotions, opinions, imaginings. Lyric writing is communicating through words and rhythms and rhymes. Lyric writing builds your language skills and your sensitivity to words. Setting lyrics to music and evoking emotions with musical sounds is another way to communicate!
You can write a song from any perspective. Often the default is you own perspective, but you can imagine and write from someone else’s point of view or express opinions that aren’t necessarily your own opinions.
Listening to constructive criticism of your songs also gives you insight into how others experience the world.
Action Steps to Increase the Healthy Side Effects
1. Daily Regular Habits
Do it every day, even if it’s only a little bit. Small steps add up quickly.
It’s easy to skip a day, but then it can become two or three days… get back to it!
Try to build a habit with a small amount each day… give yourself a daily minimum requirement… even if it’s just 5 minutes!
Click to find out how to create a solid songwriting habit, starting with just 5 minutes a day: Daily Songwriting.
2. Focus on You Songwriting Process Not the Product
Have fun with it, don’t get stressed out or expect too much
If you aren’t getting joy out of it, you‘re doing it wrong
Put your energy and attention into how you write, rather than how much you write.
Decide on regular schedule (start with a few minutes a day) and stick with it
Measure your success by how you feel at the end of a session, not how many words your wrote
Measure your success by how many times you wrote, not how long you wrote for, or how many songs you finished last month.
Plan to work regularly, instead of trying to sit down to write a whole song in one session.
3. Focus on the Positive
Instead of dwelling on negative experiences and possibilities, focus on positives! Keep your attention on positive self talk and positive action, rather than negative history or past experiences… trust me it will make your whole life more enjoyable.
Be happy with what you are doing. If you enjoy songwriting and are satisfied with your songwriting sessions, you will be able to bring this happiness into other areas of your life. If you are down on yourself or negative about your art, it will follow you too.
Flush your emotions to clean out your psyche…