Table of contents
Hope you fine people are doing well this week.
For this first newsletter issue, I decided to share with you something that we all face at some point when writing music: WRITER'S BLOCK. Plus, the usual favourites.
This month, I'm listening to Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. I never thought breathing was the cause of so many physical and mental issues. This book is a real eye-opener (literally), and I can't recommend it enough.
I've been hooked to Monolink - Return to Oz (ARTBAT Remix) this week. It's on replay non-stop.
Just last week, I finished Make Time by Jake Knapp and summarized the book here. It's a book about time management but not in the traditional sense. If you have trouble staying focused and productive, I urge you to give it a try.
The Great Shot in Television — I've recently started getting into filmmaking and video production, and this video stood out to me because it is the single greatest shot filmed in television history. It's completely real, it's NOT a green screen. If James Burke had missed this chance, there would have been no chance of a re-shoot.
✍️ Quote of the week
Taking too much is theft. Taking too little fails to acknowledge our influences. — Dennis DeSantis
Resurfaced via Readwise
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Let's get into it.
We've all been there. The struggle to get started. The lack of inspiration. And as a result, the feeling of absent originality when creating ideas.
You might know where to start but not how to finish a track. Sometimes you might feel like you can't write because it doesn't sound good enough or feel motivated. I will share the things I have put in place that helped me overcome writer's block when it comes to making songs, music, or videos.
I hope you don't mind the length of this post. I wanted to share all my ideas with you so that you can pick and choose what works best for you and never have a problem sitting down to produce or write a song again. Keep in mind that some sections apply more to writing lyrics than they do to writing instrumentals.
1. Keep ideas in the form of playlists and bookmarks.
One of the best ways to overcome writer's block is to keep a journal of ideas. Journaling ideas can be done in a few ways: (1) creating playlists of songs that inspire you, (2) bookmarking relevant websites, and (3) saving articles with songwriting tips.
🤓 What interests you?
You can find inspiration for your songs by exploring music scores, looking at artwork, and reading poetry. You can also find inspiration from spending time in nature and talking to other songwriters. Exploring different mediums will help you find new and exciting ways to be inspired and create unique and compelling songs.
😍 What are your favourite artists?
To get inspired for musical ideas, listen to your favourite musicians and music producers. Examining their music can help you get in the right frame of mind to write your songs and give you ideas for new melodies or chords. You can also learn a lot about songwriting by studying your favourite artists' musical styles and various works.
What are important experiences in your life?
People can connect with your songs more easily when you write about personal experiences. This is because they can relate to what you are saying. When you write from the heart, your songs will be more honest and emotionally powerful. You will have a lot of material to work with because of all the experiences you have had in your life.
🎇 What lights a fire within you? What gets you out of bed?
You need to be passionate about your songs if you want them to be unique and interesting. When you write about things that matter to you, your enthusiasm will show in your music and connect with your listeners. Producing songs that are inspiring and motivating can be a powerful tool for connecting with people.
🎸 What types of music do you like?
Listening to different types of music can help you find new ideas for your own songs. You can also understand how musical elements work together to create a certain sound or mood. Additionally, listening to music can help you expand your musical vocabulary and develop your own unique style.
🎨 What other art forms do you like?
Different types of art can be inspiring for songwriting. You can find new ways to express yourself and create original songs by exploring different types of art. For example, studying other art forms can help you understand how music can be used to convey emotion and create a specific mood. As a songwriting challenge, try writing a song in the style of a type of music/song that is different from the genre you are comfortable with.
2. Get organized and develop a plan of action
You have to get organized.
And I don't mean only organizing your sound sample packs or your project tracks. I mean organize your life, day, and tasks.
Organization starts with (1) creating an action plan and setting achievable goals. Having a clear goal in mind will make you more motivated and likely to achieve your target. Additionally, by (2) setting deadlines for yourself, you will be less likely to procrastinate and more likely to stay on track. Finally, (3) developing a routine and sticking to it. Set aside time each day to write and make sure that you stick to your schedule.
🗓️ Create a Songwriting/Production Schedule
Set realistic goals and make sure you have enough time to achieve them.
Aim to write one song per week. If you can't write a complete song in one sitting, break it down into smaller goals.
For example, you could set a goal of writing one song's lyrics per week and the melody for another.
Once you have written a few songs, you increase the difficulty and write more songs more often.
Set yourself a songwriting challenge at least once a month to see how it goes.
📌 Establish Goals
When starting a new song, it is important to set specific and achievable goals.
Some examples of specific goals include:
- Write a song with a minimum of four chords
- Write a song in the key of C major or A minor
- Write a song with a verse and chorus
- Write a song that is under three minutes in length
By completing these goals, you will not only improve your songwriting skills and technique but also feel a sense of accomplishment.
🖼️ Find Inspiration
One of the best ways to get inspired for your songwriting is to listen to music. Listening to other music can give you new ideas and teach you about different musical styles.
Besides listening to music, you can find inspiration from other art forms. This can include looking at paintings, watching dance performances, or even seeing films. Another great way to get inspired is to take a walk and let your mind wander.
Sometimes, the best ideas come when you least expect them.
💃 Develop a Style
One of the best ways to develop your musical style is to listen to a wide variety of music: the more songs, the better. And sometimes, you have to listen to and study music outside your comfort zone.
As you listen, pay attention to the different elements of each song.
Some things to consider include:
- Overall mood or feeling
By understanding how these elements work together, you can start to develop your style. Also, don't be afraid to experiment and try new things. The more you experiment, the more you will learn about what works for you and what doesn't – keep sharpening your songwriting composition skills.
3. Practice, practice, practice
If you want to improve your writing skills, you need to practice every day. If you commit to writing regularly, you will see results quickly.
Results create momentum. And momentum gives you the necessary energy and motivation to drive through pain and grow.
You should practice a set of the following skills every single day:
✍️ Write lyrics
Start by thinking of some topics for your song. After that, come up with a catchy phrase or sentence, to sum up the main idea of your song. Work on the lyrics next, and use the hook as a starting point.
As you write, try to evoke a certain emotion or feeling.
Once you have the song's basic structure, go back and revise the lyrics, making sure they flow well and are easy to understand. Don't hesitate to listen to popular songs for inspiration and work on your ideas from there.
🎹 Write melodies & chords
Start by humming or singing a few different melodies until you find one you like. Then, begin with a purely instrumental and somewhat familiar melody.
Once you have a melody you like, start adding chords to it. You don't have to come up with new musical ideas every time: start with something you know and make small changes.
When you are adding chords, try to create a balance between tension and release. This will help make your music sound more like your favourite tunes. If you are starting out, try replicating the major or minor chords of your favourite songs. Then, have fun creating variations of those chords.
Once you have a few compelling melodies that people will like and some interesting chord progressions, choose the primary melody that you will use most often. The secondary melody can be used for the second chorus.
🧪 Run musical experiments
Try new sounds, instruments, samples, and effects. At this stage, you want your creative juices to flow. It's not time to hone in on the details; it's time to create things that are boundless to limitations. Try new and different things.
You may also want to experiment with different genres.
By writing in different genres, you will be able to broaden your skillset and learn new techniques that can be applied to your own style.
Some genres that you may want to try include:
Remember, there are no rules when it comes to songwriting. Most importantly, you enjoy the process and allow your creativity to flow.
4. Experiment with different songwriting techniques
Trying different techniques is a great way to improve your skills. You can experiment with different songwriting techniques to make your songs more interesting and complex. By trying new things, you will learn what works for you and what doesn't.
Some techniques to try include:
🎺 Practice writing distinctive grooves
A groove is a repeating musical figure that provides the foundation for a piece of music. It can be played by any combination of instruments, but it is typically associated with rhythm section instruments like drums and bass.
A distinctive groove can help make a song more memorable and catchy and add a sense of style and personality—something truly unique to your musical style.
To get started, try experimenting with different rhythmic patterns and melodic motifs. Also, don't be afraid to add embellishments like fills and breaks. Try adding more groove/swing to your midi patterns or vary the tempo. Maybe switch up the time signature?
🎼 Work with different harmonic and melodic ideas
What's the difference?
Harmonic ideas are different progressions, borrowed chords, and modulations.
Melodic ideas are different melodic shapes, motifs, and sequences of single notes.
Try working with both — aim for trial and error with your instrumentation.
Then switch instruments.
What sounds best? A guitar? Piano? Synth? Drums? Bass?
🎶Write interesting chord progressions
You can use a variety of different chords to create exciting progressions. Try using unusual chords or chords that you don't often use. You can also try creating passages that move in unexpected ways. Make it a challenge to make things funky and different.
Adding engaging rhythms can make your progressions sound unique and exciting. For example, try using different time signatures or adding syncopation to your chords.
Adding a melody to your chord progression can make it sound even more enjoyable. Try playing around with different melodies or even creating your own.
The best way to create interesting chord progressions is to experiment. Try different things, and see what sounds good. There are no rules, so feel free to be creative!
🎤 Write many unique melodies
Try coming up with as many unique melodies as possible. Vary them as much as you can. You will force yourself to crate quantity before quality and then sift through those that stand out the most. Try different sounds to come up with original ideas and differentiated takes.
👓 Change perspectives
Are you not feeling inspired? Try taking on an entirely new perspective or direction for the track. For example, alternate the tempo, add or remove elements, or try a completely new genre.
Remember, there are no rules when it comes to songwriting. The most important thing is that you have fun while you are creating. Let your inspiration flow and enjoy yourself.
🎛️ Use effects to try a unique songwriting voice
One way to add interest and depth to your songs is to experiment with different sound effects. Effects can be used to create a unique songwriting voice and can help you stand out from the crowd. Some effects that you may want to try include:
- Distortion (Saturation/Overdrive)
- Low-pass/high-pass filters
📝 Play with words
Try writing lyrics by using metaphors and similes. Use wordplay to add interest and depth to your lyrics. Try different rhyme schemes to add variety— pair unusual phrases. Finally, create a song challenge where you see things differently, in a different tone, and see the results.
5. Write from the heart
As an artist, putting your soul into something comes from a place of honesty and sincerity. This feeling will connect with your listeners and make your songs resonate with them.
Have a vision, a direction to where you want the listener to go. Think about how you want to make them feel, and then pour that into your music. Write about things that you are passionate about, and try to be as personal and honest as possible. Your goal should be to create a connection— make your listeners feel something.
Don't rush— think those ideas through.
📃 Jot lyrics on paper
One way to help you write from your heart is to physically write your lyrics down on paper. Writing on paper is preferable to typing because it's less distracting than a screen and more connected to physical elements — your hands, eyes, and soul. You can also use a thesaurus or a dictionary to help you find the perfect word to describe how you're feeling.
Don't worry about editing your lyrics yet.
Don't worry about making your lyrics flawless.
Get all of your thoughts and draft them on paper.
The first draft of your lyrics doesn't have to be perfect; it just has to be honest.
🧑🎤 Create lyric-oriented melodies— easy to sing and catchy
Your melodies should be catchy and easy to sing. Repetition will help your listeners remember your songs and allow them to sing along with you.
Your goal should be to write music that people can't get out of their heads.
Try to create memorable hooks that will stay with your listeners long after they've heard your song.
Create unusual phrases that stand out from the rest.
Part of what makes a song memorable is its originality. Try to create phrases that stand out from the rest and make listeners take notice. Be creative with your word choice, and don't be afraid to experiment.
Listen to your favourite songs and analyze why they are so catchy.
One way to improve your songwriting is to listen to your favourite songs and analyze why they are so catchy. What is the melody or the lyrics that make them so memorable? How can you incorporate these elements into your own songwriting?
6. Write lyrics that tell a story
When working on a new song and you start writing the lyrics, consider what kind of story you want to tell. What is the song about? What is the main message that you want to get across?
Lyrics should stand on their own, even if someone can't hear the music.
Lyrics should be able to paint a picture in the listener's mind and give them a clear idea of what the song is about.
💪 Use strong verbs to convey an emotion
One way to make your lyrics more powerful is to use strong verbs that convey emotion. Strong verbs will help your listeners feel more emotions and understand the message you're trying to get across.
Some strong verbs that you can use include:
👄 Use figurative language
Figurative language is a great way to add depth and emotion to your lyrics. It can also paint a picture in the listener's mind and help them understand your message more clearly.
Some examples of figurative language include:
Before you start writing your lyrics, it's important to figure out the main message that you want to get across. What is the song's theme? What are you trying to say?
Flex those writing muscles and create original lyrics to layer on top of your next track with these ideas. Remember that successful songwriters rely on their ability to finish music consistently. They achieve routine writing: from idea to entire song in a few sittings and don't strive for perfectionism. They only envision completing what they started and moving forward to the next project. The more songs you finish, the better you will get, which is the invaluable skill you are developing.
7. Connect with other songwriters
One of the best ways to improve your songwriting composition skills is to connect with other songwriters. You can learn new techniques and get feedback on your work by sharing ideas and collaborating with others. You can also gain knowledge and inspiration from others and learn more about making a good song. In addition, you will get inspired to create ideas that you probably have never thought about.
Here are a few ways to connect with other songwriters:
⭕ Join a songwriting group or community
Communities are a great way to meet other songwriters. Most groups meet regularly to share ideas and give feedback. It's a great way to improve inspiration and songwriting skills.
No matter how you connect with other songwriters, finding a community where you feel comfortable is essential.
⚒️ Join songwriting workshops and events
These events usually feature panel discussions and workshops led by successful songwriters. Attendees can ask questions and learn about the songwriting process. These events are a great way to learn more about songwriting and get inspired by other writers. Make it a challenge to connect with at least one other songwriter.
8. Take care of your mental health
Songwriting is a complex craft. It's important to stay mentally healthy if you want to be successful. You can easily get overwhelmed or discouraged when working on a song, especially if it's not going well. Take care of yourself mentally and emotionally so you don't get burned out or discouraged.
Here are a few tips to help you take care of your mental health:
💤 Get enough sleep and exercise
Sleep is vital for your mental health. Make sure you're getting enough sleep to be productive and creative when you're writing. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and boost your mood. Taking a break to go for a walk or run can help clear your mind and give you a fresh perspective on your song.
🍌 Eat healthy foods
What you eat can impact your mental health. Eating healthy foods will help you feel better mentally and physically. Avoid processed foods and eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
🚶Take breaks often
Don't try to write a song in one sitting. It's essential to take breaks to avoid getting overwhelmed or discouraged. Get up, walk around, nap, or watch a movie. Taking a break will help you come back to your song with fresh eyes.
It's important to make time for yourself outside of songwriting. Make sure you're taking care of your physical health, getting enough sleep, and spending time with friends and family. It's also important to take breaks from songwriting when you need to. Don't be afraid to step away from your work if you feel overwhelmed.
📍 Set realistic goals
It's crucial to have realistic objectives in mind while songwriting. It's easy to become discouraged if you put too much pressure on yourself. Set modest goals for each songwriting session, and don't be afraid to pat yourself on the back when you achieve them. For example, a realistic goal can be finishing the chord progression in an hour's sitting. It can be finishing the main drop (chorus) during a two-hour block. As you noticed, a realistic goal is measurable and has a clear outcome. Once you start working this way, you will be less stressed and achieve more—these are the secrets of experienced songwriters.
🪟 Find a creative outlet
It's crucial to find a creative outlet outside of songwriting. This diversity can help you relieve stress and give you a break from the pressure of writing a song. Some creative outlets you might consider are painting, photography, or playing an instrument.
🗣️ Talk to someone
If you're feeling overwhelmed, talk to someone about it. Talk to a friend, family member, therapist, or anyone who will listen. It can be helpful to talk about what you're going through with someone who understands. In addition, it can help you manage your anxiety and depression.
By taking care of your mental health, you'll be better positioned to write successful songs. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you're struggling; take breaks.
9. Deal with writer's block head-on
Many successful songwriters learned the importance of building a creative system (engine). As a result, they don't wait for inspiration to strike. Instead, they start working through their new song by starting with a template, presets, and previous ideas and work their way through that initial hump.
A blank canvas can be a significant obstacle when songwriting. It can be challenging to start a song if you're struggling to develop ideas.
Here are a few tips:
🗺️ Start with a template
Use a songwriting template to help you get started on your song. A template can give you a structure to follow and inspire your lyrics and melodies.
📻 Use presets
If you're struggling to come up with ideas, try using presets. Presets are pre-made chord progressions, melodies, and beats that you can use in your song. They can help you get started quickly and give you ideas to work with.
🖌️ Draw inspiration
If you're having trouble coming up with ideas, try listening to other songs for inspiration. Identify what you like about the music and see if you can use it in your own song.
🥧 Set realistic expectations
Songwriting is not easy. Do not expect to write a hit song every time you sit down to write. Every songwriter makes mistakes, but the best songwriters learn from those mistakes and use them to improve their songwriting skills. Try taking on a songwriting challenge if you're stuck in a rut. Pick a topic or theme and write a song about it. It doesn't matter if the song is good or bad; try to get the creative juices flowing. You might be surprised at what you come up with. And who knows, you might just write your next hit song!
The more your write, the more you produce, the more mistakes you will make, and the more you need to learn from those mistakes. The only way to success is through failure.
10. Find a creative space that works
Art inspires. Art creates. Art is passion. Art is life.
As an artist, your studio is a special place; it's a space where you can let your creativity flow and feel inspired.
A creative space can be a physical outlet or an online space. Finding a place where you feel comfortable and can focus on your work is important.
🛰️ Different spaces = different inspiration
- Home studio
- Friend's studio
- Coffee Shop
- Discord (and other online spaces)
There are many things you can do to improve your writing. Keep a journal of ideas, get organized, and practice regularly. Experiment with different techniques, and write from the heart. Draw inspiration from personal experiences, and use lyrics to tell a story.
You also need to take care of your mental health and deal with writer's block head-on. This means setting achievable goals for yourself.
It can be helpful to find inspiration from different forms of art and music when you are trying to create unique and interesting songs.
Find a creative space, practice, and learn from your mistakes — start forging your journey toward becoming a successful songwriter and music producer.
If you're struggling, don't be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Ok, that's it for this one.
Thanks for reading, till next time!