Don’t Be Afraid to Let Go
Sometimes songwriters love their lyrics so much that it is difficult to toss them and start over. This is a common occurrence amongst all types of writers; songwriters are no exception. But it is this decision making that will separate a good songwriter from an amateur songwriter. It is natural to fall in love with our own writing. Putting lyrics (that don’t really work) aside for a particular song can be difficult.
A songwriter must be open to change and ways of structuring a particular stanza or lyric. Many times, when a songwriter’s work is critiqued and the lyric may not be liked by a particular person or audience, it is natural for a songwriter to fill insulted or have their ego bruised. It is because most songwriters put their heart and soul into a particular piece that it is difficult to hear anyone criticize their work. This is a very common reaction.
A songwriter has to be able to step back, understand where a listener may be coming from, and adjust their work accordingly. The overall goal is to ensure the song conveys a particular message effectively, emotionally, and that audiences are able to relate to it. If these things don’t happen in a song, then the songwriter has missed the mark and the message will be lost and all the hard work will be in vain.
Some of the best songwriters will show up to the studio with only a few passages to begin the songwriting process. Feedback from other artists, producers, and other songwriters is then provided and this is where many great songs are born. It is all about being open to this process of new ideas that makes great songwriting work. Many times the melody, lyrics, or idea fails on the first go around and it can take many “takes” to get it right. Countless songs are rewritten five or six times. Some songwriters might take a few weeks to develop a song before it is ready to be recorded by their intended artist.
It is important a songwriter understand that good songs are those that are continually reworked on and have been fine-tuned to create a desired effect. It is very rare for a song to be put together in a 15 or 20 minute session and it become a hit; not to say that it hasn’t happened, but this is very rare.
If the songwriter’s idea isn’t working and the lyrics being developed don’t work, sometimes it’s best to step away and come back to it at a later time. This is what all good writers do; songwriters and otherwise. Remember that songwriting should be fun and being frustrated will only stop the flow of creativity. When the songwriter gets to the point of being frustrated, it’s important that they step away for a bit otherwise they will be discouraged.
The important thing to keep in mind is that a songwriter should never be afraid to let go of his material if it is not working. Just keep the idea for future use because you may find that a particular idea may work best with another song. Ideas are infinite and free so just keep them for further use down the road. Keep building your library of ideas. Note that some of the most popular songs went through a long process before they sold millions of records worldwide.