A Practising Songwriter

I read a post today that got me thinking about being a practising songwriter. Here’s the Mic Control link about how to write even when you don’t want to. There are some great tips!

I have been writing songs since I knew what a song was. It’s just something I love to do. Every heartbreak was captured in song as a teen and every aggregation and grievance was penned through my 20s and 30s. And now that I am lucky enough to write songs as my job I have stopped writing about myself and write about everything and anything.

3 years ago I decided that I wanted to make songwriting my career after finishing up a 20 year career as a musical stand-up comedian. As a comedian I was not prolific and relied on the huge turnover of audience in the UK to get away with doing the same songs for many years. I was very successful but not proud of my work, which really hit home after a bitter sweet review saying I was talented, but was trotting out the same material year after year. They were right about the latter and I was grateful for the former.

When I made the decision to become a full time songwriter and recording artist I knew I had to view writing a a job, not just something I loved to do as a hobby.

A lot of people ask me where I get my inspiration and the answer is that I don’t… not really. Sounds weird, I know. I am rarely inspired to write a song. I don’t get an idea in my head and think “I MUST write about that”. I just sit down and write… a lot. I play some chords and see what comes out of my mouth. Often I am surprised by what I am thinking about. When you write a lot, some of it is going to be bad but with time the ratio of good to bad errs on the good side… I hope!

People talk about doctors, lawyers, dentists etc as being ‘practising’. As songwriters, we should be practising too, all the time. We can’t expect a great song to just come to us or to write one great song a year. We need to treat it like a job and work really hard at it. You wouldn’t want to see a dentist who only had a few patients a year so you should’t get mad at yourself when the couple of songs you wrote in a year were not ‘great’. We need to practice songwriting and for every bad song we learn something that we can take to the next song.

Now that I write a lot, I am proud of what I produce and release to the public. The others are locked away in the ‘bad song’ file on my computer!

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3 comments

  1. thanks for this Helen.. Maybe we can talk about that in the CV songwriters page or at one of the meetings. I am going to check the MIC link now
    Randy S.

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