Writing is a practice
It is very common to hear in the writing community that writing is a practice. Just like learning an instrument, you can’t expect that every day will look the same in your writing space. But each day that you put the time in, you are allowing a mindset for new ideas to flow in. Songwriting becomes a muscle.
Sometimes you need to get the bad songs out
Not every song is a “great” song. Maybe most of your songs come out pretty good, but don’t spark that magical feeling in you like that one song from two months ago. That’s okay. Maybe you’re writing a lot of bad songs (or maybe they’re not that bad, but you don’t like them much). That’s okay too. Get all those “bad” songs out to get closer to the good ones.
The more you write, the more you learn, the easier it gets
Songwriting is sometimes like exercise. It hurts to start, but if you’re writing new songs every week, you start to figure things out quickly. You learn more about what works in songs and what doesn’t. You don’t make as many mistakes and things become easier.
You understand your own writing process in a deep way
If you’re starting new songs more often, the struggles of starting them begin to fade away (mostly). Song arcs become natural to plot out, you find structures you love, you figure out your favourite chords. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses in songwriting is actually a powerful tool. Understanding your process is a strength in itself: Songwriting becomes intuitive.
The more creative you are, the more you invite it in
Sure, some people are inspired naturally, and that’s incredible. If you struggle with new ideas and think inspiration might be bullsh*t, you’ll probably find that writing new songs helps the ideas flow. Sometimes it gives you ideas for unfinished songs. That’s the great thing about writing more: you never run out of ideas, you just learn creative ways to discover them.
But what if you’re writing a lot of new songs and you’re not feeling good about how things are going? What if you had a good streak, but you’re really running out of ideas and you don’t really want to write?
Sometimes, you shouldn’t write the next song. Here are some reasons why.
You need rest
It’s actually possible to be burned out by something you love to do, especially if you feel like you “have” to do it. When you’ve overdone it, you have too many things going on in your life or you just need a lot more sleep, it’s okay to take a break. I love that quote from Banksy that is going around: “If you’re tired, learn to rest, not quit.”
You’re bored of your songs or the writing process
Does any artist you know stay in the same songwriting realm for their entire careers? Probably not. Some artists change their sound with every single album. Sometimes we need to take a step back and think about what is inspiring to us right now, and not a few months (or a year) ago. Listen to some new music. Think about new aspects and stories to incorporate into your music.
You’re in a different songwriting season
There are many songwriters who advocate for this, and there’s a great post on Instagram describing the four seasons of a songwriter. If you’re not feeling up to writing, you might actually be putting your attention in another “season” and putting your creativity into it. Seasons come around and you will get back to writing soon enough.
You’re writing too much
If you’re co-writing, that is amazing. You might have several co-writes a week plus your own writing time. It’s natural to feel like you’re writing too much. Maybe you need a balance between songwriting and some activity not related to music. Personally, I keep up my co-writes but take breaks from my own writing so I can vary up my schedule.
You’re too in your head
Some songwriters can write songs when they’re crying over someone. I am not that person, though it is impressive. I sometimes need a chance to process emotions or difficult situations in my life. The inner critic can get loud when I’m writing a song, so usually I need to free write in my journal to get my head straight. That might not turn into a song for a long time (or ever), and that’s okay.
Writing the next song might be a big priority for you. It might be the next step in really honing in your skills and becoming a great songwriter. There’s also no shame in taking a break to focus on other aspects of music. Whether you want to write new songs everyday or every other week, the most important part is to write as often as you can and take time off when you need it.