How to Take Your Songs from Good to Great...

Katie Lott ..

Songwriters: hear this - Never be afraid of doing deep repeated analysis of your songs...

I used to be the type of musician where, once I finished a song, it was done. I added it to my long list of songs, and then I never looked at it again. As a result, I had a huge list of songs that had great potential, but I was never completely satisfied with any of them.

When I started going back and rewriting and perfecting my songs, it brought a whole new level of confidence in my songwriting. I could defend every single choice I had made in my songs, and I was finally creating songs that I was proud of. If you’re still on the fence about rewriting, here are a few reasons you should try it out.

1. Eliminate "Lazy" Song-writing
Let’s be honest. We’ve all done it. You didn’t really feel like putting substantial lyrics in that second verse, but you were just dying to be done with the song and release it to the world!

I used to fall into the trap of, “Well, the chorus is so good, it doesn’t really matter if the verses aren’t stellar, right?” Wrong. The truth is, if I release a song with lyrics or melodies I’m not completely proud of, it’s really hard for me to stand behind those songs.

So before you declare your song "finished," apply this test: If this song became a hit and you heard this song on the radio every day for the rest of your life, would there be any part of the song you would cringe at?

2. You'll Never Get it "Perfect" the First Time
You’ve probably heard that the cure to writer’s block is to lower your standards, and that’s so true. Sometimes throwing in some “filler lyrics” that you know you’ll change later will help you maintain the flow of your writing session and keep you from getting stuck.

Sometimes your mind is running away with a perfect melody, but the other half of your brain can’t keep up with equally killer lyrics. Let that melody take over. Give yourself the freedom to let your creative juices flow!

When you’re confident in your ability to rewrite lyrics, melody, and chord progressions, there’s less pressure on the first go-around. After all, it’s only a rough draft.

3. Time Helps You Become More Objective
It’s always hard to critique your own work. Right after you’ve just written your beautiful, incredible, brilliant, masterpiece of a song, you just can’t imagine anything being wrong with it. I don’t know about you, but I tend to fall “out of love” with my songs after some time has passed. If I give myself a month or so before reviewing a song, I’m able to look at it much more objectively.

Try this: Next time you finish a song, before you polish it and throw it the vault of “finished songs,” take some time away and come back to it with an open mind. Be honest with yourself about what parts of the song are and aren’t working. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

Katie Lott is a songwriting and voice coach at Modern Songstress, a website providing articles, coaching, and courses to musicians. Katie coaches singers and songwriters over Skype to help them understand the "music theory" side of things – and channel that knowledge into creating better music. Grab Katie's free "Songwriting Proofreading" checklist to help you review your songwriting objectively!


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