Artist developmentSongwriting

What keeps you from finishing songs and how to fix it

Are you one of the many songwriters that love writing and coming up with new ideas all the time but hardly ever finish your songs?

Is the growing amount of unfinsihed songs on your computer starting to make you feel anxious and frustrated?

Then, go and read our 3 tips to overcome the procratsination cycle. To break the cycle we will look into the reasons for your not finishing songs you started. Let´s dive in:

1. Fear of failure

Maybe you are writing a vulnerable song you really feel connected with, but then, after over-analyzing and listening back to what you have got so far, doubts start creeping in. You might want your song to perfectly capture whatever it is you are writing about, so that other people instantly fall in love with it so that your being vulnerable “pays off”. The underlying problem is a fear of failure and being judged.

The solution: Mindset is important and I want you to mind this: There is no such thing as a formula in songwriting and the best songs are usually the ones that transport honest emotions. So, stop overthinking and just finish the song as best you can and do it for yourself, not for anyone out there. As you write the song, it is you and the song. If you have a fear of failure, then trying to write the song so to please the audience is a sure way to fail. Why? Songs are always subject to personal taste and even your most devoted fan, will not connect with every single song you write and that is OK! Make sure, YOU connect with your songs and are proud of them. Now, go and finish that song of yours! You owe your song the chance to be sung;)

2. Lack of Music Theory knowledge

You might feel like your songs are too simple and not sophisticated enough, because you are not a trained “professional” musician and don´t know how songwriting really works. Yes, you´ve got great ideas, but you immediately think that everyone could have come up with those. Who are you to think you are entitled to call yourself a songwriter.

Well, guess what! That´s exactly how songwriters feel and think. Embrace the insecurity and trust your intuition. Great music is made for everybody and not just for the most sophisticated jazz musicians. So, what makes you think your songs have to be innovative masterpieces? In fact, some of the best songs are super simple.

And while learning about music theory is definitely beneficial if you are a professional songwriter, as it gets you places “faster”, it is not a requirement. You can write great songs without the knowledge of why certain chords fit together and which notes go in which scales. You might take a bit longer to craft your songs, but you can do it!

Also, keep in mind that even professional musicians sometimes learned to play by ear first and still rely on their ears mostly. So, relax and focus on your song´s message and not its DNA. Think of music as a language you grew up listening to! Music theory would be like the grammar. Helpful to understand it for sure, but you can learn a language without understanding the actual rules on a meta level.

Just let go of your self-sabotage and trust your ears and your creativity! Write for the joy of writing, not for the sake of proving you´re a great musician! This is hard to measure anyways! So what´s the point of beating yourself up!

3. You get bored too quickly

Maybe you are one of the people that like the challenge to come up with good song ideas, but once you´ve got a verse and a chorus down, you lose interest in writing further verses and a bridge? In your mind you´ve got the most important elements and are good to move on? Be aware that this is dopamine driven behavior. You are looking for the next exciting experience instead of sticking to a melody you already know (aka a verse pattern that now needs lyrics). Now, what if you found a way to make the experience of writing that second and third verse more fun?

One trick would be to take the verse you wrote – let´s say verse one – and put it in the position of verse number two. Now, you have to write a verse 1 that picks up earlier in the storyline. This could be fun. Another fun option would be to change the narrative by switching from 1st or second person narrative to third person narrative. How does that change the song? Find ways to “play” with your song. Playing is fun, work isn´t, right?;)

Hope that some of those tips help you get the juices flowing!

Bonus tip

One last tip I have is to make a commitment. Maybe, book a “song critique”. That way, you HAVE to finish a song to actual send it in and get feedback. Some people do well, if they have a deadline that is mandatory. If you need such kind of a commitment, then cowriting might be something worth looking into as well! Maybe working in a team helps you get the job done;)

Happy writing! Let me know, what your biggest struggles are? Leave a comment below and come back soon!

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