Making The Most Of Your Songwriting Session
If you’re anything like me you started writing songs as soon as you had two chords to rub together. Songwriting isn’t just a fundamental part of being a musician, it’s a crucial piece of the local church expression.
I’ve always loved writing songs. I write a piece of a song almost every day. A chord progression. A melody line. A lyric. A beat. For a long time they went uncaptured, lost to black hole of incomplete songs. I’ve learned that if I want to write, complete and share songs I’ve got to set some time aside for a songwriting session. Here’s how to get started.
Schedule The Time
Nothing screams creativity and inspiration like pulling out the ‘ol calendar but this is crucial to a strong songwriting session. Most of us don’t have record contracts with deadlines demanding songs by a certain time so if we’re not careful intentional songwriting can be the last thing we get around to.
The inspiration that strikes when you’re driving to work is great but without some actual concentrated time that idea will never grow into a song. For me, songwriting goes on my calendar along with all of my other appointments and tasks. For the last few months this has been 9:00-11:00am on Wednesday mornings.
Find A Good Space
Having a productive and fun songwriting session starts with an inspiring space. I’ve written songs everywhere from by bedroom to my porch. From a studio to the beach. The key is having a quite, undistracted place that fuels your creativity and helps you focus. If it’s somewhere you can make a lot of noise without feeling self concise even better! Right now for me this is a secluded room here at my church with lots of natural light and a view of the hills.
Bring The Right Gear
Once you’ve set the time and found the space you’re almost ready to go. Now it’s time to gather everything you need for some uninterrupted time. I like to load up my backpack and head to my spot ready to stay for a few hours. Here are my essentials:
Bible - When I’m writing songs for our Church I want them to be absolutely saturated with the Word of God.
Notebook - Sometimes ideas are best fleshed out when they’re actually written down. I prefer to go sketchbook style.
Computer - Notebooks are great but I need a central place for all of my ideas. Audio clips are recorded through the QuickTime Player on my Mac. Lyrics and charts are kept in Evernote. Often times I’ll use the stock mac application Photo Booth to record videos of guitar parts I’m afraid I won't be able to remember.
Phone - Song ideas often start as voice memos on my phone. I’ll collect them and import them into iTunes.
Mic - Weather you’re recording an audio clip with QuickTime or a video clip with Photo Booth they’ll sound awful with your computer’s build in mic. Get a simple mic set up. I use this USB mic made by Blue.
External Hard Drive - I like to work out ideas in Logic as I’m writing. Once the song is finished I can use it as a scratch track if I want to record it. I keep these project files on an external drive.
When is the best time for you to work on your songs?
Where could you go?
What do you need to bring?