It can be very helpful for songwriters to understand themselves, especially their writing process. Some only start with lyrics, some can only write at night, some can only write when they’re falling asleep. Some will claim not to have a writing process, which in itself is also important to know.
Songs or songwriting sessions can be the most difficult right before you begin. When you’re trying to write, it can be helpful to understand writer’s block and get yourself out of a slump so that you can approach writing in a different way from that mental space. But what about physically? How can you figure out what works best for you and optimize your writing sessions to the fullest?
First, start by looking at your best writing sessions. What did you do to have a great writing session at that time? Was there something in particular that made that time different to when you’ve had less-than-stellar sessions? If you need a little help understanding what could have differentiated the great sessions, try asking yourself the following.
Morning, Afternoon or Evening?
Was that session at a particular time of day? Do you write better when you’re most awake or when you’re falling asleep? Do you do morning pages or object writing?
Weekdays or Weekends?
Similarly, are you writing every weekday and making it a habit? Do you squeeze writing in the middle of lunch breaks? Or do you carve out big chunks of time on the weekends?
Writing Every Day or All At Once?
Do you write a little bit every day? A lot every day? Or do you set a timer and brain dump? Do you like to write an entire song at a time or just a little bit?
What comes first?
What inspires you to start a song? A lyric or song title? Characters or concepts? A riff on your instrument? A set of chords? Is it all of them, or do you tend to stick to one of these?
Songwriting Prompts or Exercises?
Do you find songwriting prompts or exercises helps you? Do they help you some of the time, every single time or not at all?
Listening to Music or Absorbing Other Art?
Are you most inspired when you listen to your favourite songs or not listen to music at all? Does it help to visit an art gallery, read a book or learn any other form of art? Do other art forms give you ideas?
Inspiration From Life?
Are you inspired by real life, finding you write more from the heart when you’re going through something? Do you find you need to write when you’re experiencing something difficult or wonderful? Or do you write in the aftermath of a situation?
Do you write best in balance or out of balance? Can you write when you’re also recording? Performing? Is work too much at the moment and is draining you mentally?
Is Your Process the Same Every Time?
Do you use the same process every single time? Is it a trusted and tried method?
This is an important question to ask because maybe you’re not really inspired the same way. You can make a list of song prompts so that every time you’re feeling that itch to write, you can cycle through different ways.
Don’t feel tied to your writing process! If it used to work but isn’t anymore, that’s okay. Use this post for ideas on how to switch things up. Maybe you’ve even discovered you’re not a writing process type of person. Either way, understanding this about ourselves is a solid step forward and going forth and writing better songs.