It seems we as songwriters have a lot of half-finished songs that simply don’t get done. We have a great idea, get halfway to creating it into something awesome… then infamous writers block hits us like a slab of concrete, cementing us in our tracks. What’s stopping us? And what can we do to learn how to finish a song?
Let’s find out.
Get A Rough Structure To Finish Songs Faster
Firstly, outline the skeleton of your song. This could be the simple version of the chords, rhythm, or melody – whichever you work best with first. Once you have a rough idea completed work on adding layers, one new idea at a time, to help you write songs fast.
This way you can link up each idea to one another. It’s a balance of how rough or small the idea is, but you want to feel like you’re progressing. This feeling is an intuitive thing, sensing what to work on next.
Each person has their own way of creating, their own process, and you need to be in the journey of finding yours in order to start finishing more songs. It might be that you create lots of small ideas on one day, then develop them another day, one idea at a time.
The amount of ideas that you work on in any given week is up to you, but try to aim for 1 – 3 so you can see each one is progressing at a rate that makes you happy.
Understand Your Songwriting Process
How do you enjoy writing songs? What method makes you happy long-term? Your process is unique to you, and what works for one person may not work for another. In the end it’s the process that will make you the most happy, and we as songwriters experience writers block which stops us from finishing our songs.
The ideas usually get partly formed – there may be a hook you wrote and now you can hear more of the song in your head or the direction has become clearer, but then so has the emotional connection you feel with writing music. It’s learning to understand where you’re at with music, how you enjoy creating that matters.
Trying to fit yourself in a box that you don’t fit in doesn’t help you to write songs. You can only get so far before you become frustrated with the process. You want a process that both fits your shape and leads you on to become what you want to be.
Don’t Overthink Things When You’re Stuck On A Song
We tend to overthink things instead of giving space and letting it speak for itself. It’s something that you wouldn’t know happens so you’re left wondering if anyone else actually has this problem.
I’ll let you in on a secret; pretty much every person you know experiences, or has experienced, over thinking on regular basis.
Try this: the next time you’re telling yourself you can’t finish this song, give that thought some space. Doing this lessens the emotional effect of it. We are all our own worst critic, and it’s learning to embrace this to become your best friend who supports you no matter what. Keep moving, even when the path is not clear – the path will reveal itself in the process.
Finishing a song helps to see what problems there are and what went well – plus it’s motivating that you managed to get through the whole thing, proving to yourself that you can finish a song. Common problems related to overthinking include procrastination and focusing on what you think will do well with others, not on whether you’re enjoying yourself. Experiment with ideas, and go for enjoyment rather than perfection.
Simply deciding to do something, listening to your voice of truth – which is you are worthy and deserve to simply enjoy this song – helps immensely in finishing songs faster. It’s an intuitive process to know when to keep going, and when to stop for a break, or to move onto something else. Your voice knows the answer, listen to it.
Record Your Ideas To Stop Having Trouble Writing A Song
Write in a songwriting journal, record ideas in your phone, or draw and stick them on your fridge – however you like to record ideas, get in the habit of doing so to have the on hand when you’re finishing your song.
I’ve found creating silly ideas, trying to fail, helps to keep me writing. And that’s all we need to do, is keep writing. You can come back to those ideas and develop them after an extended period of time to get a fresh perspective on how they sound.
Again, try not to think to much and focus on doing. If you have an idea you want to try, then try it. See what happens. At the end of the day you will enjoy creating it, regardless of the outcome. It’s a balance of being in the process of creating and feeling like you’re finishing your song.
It’s all about moving forward. Have rough ideas first, then build them up.
“I Can’t Write Songs Anymore” – Who Are You Creating For?
Is it for others approval? Because you think this song would perform better with your audience rather than that silly idea you would love to share with people? Remember why you started, and use that as a base.
Creating to please others is different than creating with others in mind. Your individuality is a core part of your songwriting, and once you acknowledge this more often, everything becomes easier. We all devalue ourselves at times, and we can throw ourselves off writing songs when we forget who we are and what makes us happy.
Self-awareness is key, but so is practical action. I have lots of half-finished songs, and that’s ok. Not every song will get finished. But when I do finish a song it feels amazing, even if it’s not totally what I want it to be. That feeling of accomplishment spurs you on.
Like I said, it’s also ok to have lots of ideas floating around. Think of it as a funnel, where you have lots of ideas floating in your mind throughout the day. Only a handful of those may get recorded, then a smaller number still get developed, then a few are the ones that get finished. These finished ideas are a small amount compared to the number of initial ideas, but they are finished nonetheless. And all the stages are part of what makes songwriting so enjoyable.
And ultimately, this is what we’re going for – learning how to finish a song by enjoying each stage of the process, so we can continue writing through both the bad and good.