Piano, Pageants & Politics

The (Actual) Songwriting Process

As many of you know, I am currently working on my second album of original music---woohoo! While it is certainly an exciting project, the process is exhausting, emotional and time-consuming. There are a lot of moving pieces that have to fall perfectly in place before a song reaches "completed" status. Here's a look at what that process looks like, step by step.

1) The idea strikes

There you are, minding your business when BAM: it happens. What (or who) that "it" is may differ, but something goes off in your mind that says "hey, drop everything you're doing. This is gonna make a great song."

2) Starting strong

You're pumped. You have the idea, you have the talent and after all, this song could be the one---the one that changes your whole career around. Now time to crank out some words. No problem, right? You've written songs before. You know what you're doing...

3) "Wait. What rhymes with {insert name here]?"

Everything is going great. So great. Your lyrics are so brilliant and your rhymes are so tight that you can't comprehend how you haven't scored a Grammy nomination or Nobel Prize for your songwriting sagacity. Just when you're starting to feel good about yourself and your career choice, your brain decides to hit you with "yeah, I don't want to work anymore". You're patient. You test out line after line in hopes that something will stick. "Please start working again, Brain!" you plead, even bribing it with coffee. Meanwhile, brain is still like "nah, I'm good."

4) Writer's block

Days pass. Weeks pass---sometimes even months. And you've got nothing, but a ticking clock and a half-written song.

4) "This is terrible. I'm terrible. Why do I even write music?"

The lack of completion is more uncomfortable than cutting out carbs. You might even try starting a new song, but the same cycle ensues---making you hate your life even more. What went wrong? Your parents had such big hopes for you. YOU had such big hopes for you! You finally understand what Natalie Imbruglia is singing about. Nothing's fine; you're torn. Because ya know what's worse than being a one-hit wonder? Being a no-hit wonder.

5) Finally thinks of line that rhymes with {insert name here}. Probably at a bad time.

And just when all hope seems lost and you're down 3-28 in the third quarter, a miracle happens. Out of nowhere, it hits you. The missing piece of the masterpiece. You might be in class or at work or in your car, but you need to find a pen and paper ASAP before someone gets hurt.

6)Back in Business. Leggo.

Ohmygod, we're back again. And unlike the Backstreet Boys, you mean it this time.

7)"Is this the real life. Is this just fantasy?"

"Excuse me while I'm oblivious to my surroundings and mentally absent during conversations because I'm running lyrics and chords in my head."

8) "And now. It's finished!"

Several breakdowns later, we've got ourselves a completed song, ladies and gentlemen.

9) "Wait, nevermind. I want to change that verse. And the chorus. And everything."

Just kidding. The song was good and all, but we're aiming for GREATNESS here, people. We'll just change a line or two, and the hook, and the melody of the verses, oh, and the bridge---until we have a draft that sounds only vaguely reminiscent of the original. Unlike round 1, this rewrite only takes a few hours and you can't understand how you didn't just come up with this in the first place.

10) "This is the greatest song in the history of music!"

It's so new and so perfect and all you want to do is share it with the world.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for weekly blog posts and updates. Do you have an article idea? Want to collaborate? Shoot me an email. Plus, because y'all have been so patient, here's a sneak peak of what you can expect on my second album. Rock on.

#music #musician #songwriting #musicindustry