2022 just came to an end and that means we have 12 new chapters ahead of us. Chapters to be filled with our songs and stories and plenty of learnings.
Reason enough to set up some rules to help us navigate through it all. Let us call them our 12 Songwriting Commandments for 2023. These shall be:
1) Honor where you are in your journey and be kind to your inner creative child
Kindness and gentle motivation is always beneficial to the artist soul. Self-criticism might be a driver to some of us, but creating from a place of self-loathing makes the process less enjoyable and can add to a decay in our mental health.
2) Devote yourself to a regular practice routine – no more excuses
This one is key. As artists we tend to lean solely to the things that seem fun. This is especially true for neurodiverse folks. While flow state is amazing and can lead to our creating great art, building healthy work habits is crucial as well. If not for the songwriting process itself, it will become essential when promoting, marketing and pitching your music. I´m not saying we have to become the most disciplined people, but making an effort to try is certainly welcome.
3) Do not just copy what others do, but work on finding your own voice
Most art is inspired by things we´ve seen or heard elsewhere. However, the key is to add our own twist to things. Copying other artists or writers is not only lame, but also pointless. They are already providing their music. Why would you copy that, if you can add a new flavor.
4) Dare to go beyond the comfort zone more often
This could mean exploring new genres, or playing more live shows or learning to produce. Stretching yourself a little is not only great in terms of advancing your skills, but might also lead you to new passions and bring you tons of new insights and ideas. As artists exploring new territory constantly is sort of part of the job description.
5) Beware of comparing yourself to others
This is an important one! Comparison needs to come in the right dose. A little might spark inspirations, but a little too much may be poison to your artistry.
6) Do not judge or self-assess your skills all the time
I´d say leave the “assesment part” to others. You just focus on doing what you do. The truth is self-assesments are sort of an utopia. Just like you can´t picture yourself in 3D by looking in a mirror, you will never be able to truly see your skills unbiased. What a waste of time. I´m not saying you shouldn´t listen to your own stuff to check if you´re delivering what you´ve envisioned. That´s fine! It is necessary even. That´s how we learn to sing on pitch, or to write better melodies. Listening back is crucial. However, judging your artistic value or deciding whether your songs are “any good” is a rabit hole you won´t want to go down.
7) Cowrite songs with others more often
You might think you ´ve got what it takes to write songs and that may be true even. But cowriting might bring new inspirations, and it is great for building team skills, pushing your self-confidence and getting feedback. Together we are stronger! Remember that!
8) Write every song with the intention to make it your best one yet
Writing a song just to pass time is fine, but it is also sort of sad. Music is communication and we are oversaturated with meaningless chit-chat. Make your songs meaningful. Give every song your full attention if you ask the same of your audience as they listen!
9) Slow down the process. This is art, not a rat race
Slowing down may not be your cup of tea, but sometimes it´s just what you need to do in order to tweak your songs. Set them aside for a while and come back to them with fresh ears later. You might have cool new ideas to add, or you may find that you love them as are. The key is that you´ll have a new perspective and that´s always great! The element of “time” is often overlooked in the creative process. And yet we all know how “time goes by so slowly, and time can do so much….”
10) Write from the heart – always
You know why songwriting requires more heart than brains? The answer is simple: If you want to dissect an idea intellectually, you´re better off writing an essay. This is not to say that your songs shouldn´t be preceded by deep reflections. All I´m saying is that the way to distill these thoughts and reflections requires the heart, because music is a language of the heart.
11) Write more happy songs. The world needs them!
Most songwriters can write sad or hurtful songs with ease. That´s because negative experiences weigh more in comparison to positive ones. It´s in our DNA. However, spreading happiness is just as important, because we are ambiguous beings. We are more than our trauma! Let´s celebrate the parts of us that aren´t broken!
12) Save the best for last!
Don´t ever stop writing, for the best songs are always yet to come. Keep aspiring to become better and never settle. Songwriting is not a sport, it´s a way of life. It´s your life! Keep livin it to the fullest!
With that said: Happy New Year! May God bless you and your loved ones!
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