SongTown USA: Tips on Writing Faster
Limited co-writing time requires efficiency. Here are some tips on how to get there.
I write very quickly. Not by design. It just generally happens that way.
When I first began trying to write professionally, I realized that I wrote slowly and methodically. In fact, sometimes I was so slow that I would have to book another day with a writer to finish the song.
It took a while to realize that this frustrated some of my co-writers and cost me some co-writing relationships.
At the time, I didn't understand why that would be frustrating. I would get a big co-write with someone farther up the ladder than I was. I wanted to make it count and for the song to be right.
Plus, I had LOTS of free days. If we didn't finish the song today, I could come finish it tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day.
What I didn't understand was that the big writer I was writing with was booked solid for the next three months. If we didn't finish our song, he would have to schedule me on an afternoon after he had already written all day. Or we would have to wait three months to finish it.
Neither was a good option. If we waited three months, the artist we were aiming at might have finished his record. Writing when you're already brain dead is not the most enjoyable experience either.
So, I realized that I was going to have to speed up my process and still maintain the quality of my work. My goal was to finish a song every day if I could. I wanted to make it easy on my co-writer and NOT have to come back another day if I could help it.
I began developing the process I use today. Here are things I do to help make sure we finish a song each day.
1) I come in with LOTS of titles and song ideas. As in over 500 at the present. I want to make sure we never sit around fumbling for an idea to write.
2) When we find an idea we like, I try to outline the way we will write the song before we start writing. I will say, "What if the first verse says 'blah, blah, blah' and then we say 'This and the other' in the 2nd verse. We hash out the outline of the whole song BEFORE we write any of it. That eliminates getting to the 2nd verse and going "Uh-oh" there's nothing left to say. We know what we are going to say in each section from the very start. Then, we just fill in the blanks to write the song. You would be amazed how much this speeds up your writing!
3) I don't get hung up on the little things during the co-write. If my co-writer keeps using a word that bothers me, I let it go. I do my editing later, by myself. Then, I will send my co-writer an e-mail and say "What do you think about these changes?" Most of the time, they go along with the changes, even if I changed the word they were DYING to use the day we wrote it. Let little things go, get the basic framework of the song done and edit later.
I'm not advocating writing quickly just to write quickly. And you should never sacrifice the quality of the song just to be fast. But, if you are prepared, doing these things can help you maximize your time with your co-writer while still writing great, well organized songs.
These three simple tips can help you be a more enjoyable co-write and will help you get invited back for another co-write later on!
Marty Dodson is a songwriter, corporate trainer and entrepreneur. His songs have been recorded by artists such as Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Joe Cocker, Leon Russell and The Plain White T’s. He once bumped Psy out of the #1 spot on the K-Pop charts but that’s another story for another day. Marty plays Taylor and Batson guitars. Follow him here: www.facebook.com/songtownusa, at www.facebook.com/martydodsonsongwriter and at Twitter @SongTownUSA or visit martydodson.com
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