10 Simple Songwriting Strategies

Ask 10 musicians to describe songwriting, and you'll get 10 different answers. So, to save you the time, here's 10 Simple Songwriting Strategies...

Songwriting can be fulfilling, frustrating, expressive, oppressive, artistic, scientific, or any of a million more juxtapositions. Songs come about in many ways. Some take years. Some take minutes. Some are hard to write and others flow forth with ease.

The typical recording studio will record all kinds of artists and bands in various genres. But, all songwriters struggle with the same issues... writer's block, where to find inspiration, how to deal with the ups and downs of the process and how to finish songs before the recording date approaches.

Many of the musicians who come to a pro-studio to record may have good ideas on how to write, but they may require more insight to pull together a really solid project. Below are a number of studio tips that will hopefully help you nail down your own songwriting approach faster and easier...

1. Set attainable songwriting goals (and stick with them)
It could be a certain amount of time each day, or a certain number of songs per week. The important thing is to make sure you hit the goals, (even if you think the quality of the writing isn't amazing). You may not use everything you write, however some hidden gems might pop-up during those writing sessions.

2. Speed-write
Some of the best songs in history were written in a very short period of time. Even if your time is limited, try to get as much down as possible. For example, set a timer for five minutes, and challenge yourself to come up with a simple melody and chord progression in those five minutes. Take a five-minute break, then repeat the process. Within an hour, you'll have six new melodies and chord progressions to develop.

3. Challenge yourself by limiting yourself
Write melodies using a few specific notes over a simple chord progression, and improvise rhythms with just a snare drum or your hands. When limited to the basics, you'll start to look for new ways to use the few resources at hand and come up with new things.

4. Change the key or tempo
Sometimes simply changing to a higher /lower key or faster /slower tempo can give your song a completely new feel. You can even try changing a song written in major to minor, or vice-versa.This is a powerful idea that some of the best songwriters around consistently employ.

5. Write on a different instrument
Sometimes we get in a rut on our primary instrument, and changing it up can give a fresh perspective. For example, if you're a guitar player, try to hammer out some chord progressions or melodies on a piano. Since the piano is laid out differently, your mind will approach it in a different way.

6. Play around with odd sounds on a synth
Synthesizers provide more sounds than anyone would ever need. Experiment with some of the less conventional sounds and see what kind of inspiration you find.

7. Modulate
Get a circle of fifths diagram and work your chord progressions through a key change or two. Sometimes this can provide a lift to a song that is stagnating. See if you can work back to the original key. It may help you discover new chord progressions, or even a new song.

8. Listen to new music
Listening to a wide variety of music, especially outside of the genre that you write in, will widen your perspective. Make notes of what you find interesting about the music you discover. Then find ways to incorporate those elements into your songs. It may not always work, but it will give you more tools to bring to the writing table.

9. Change your space
If you need some new inspiration, try rearranging your writing /recording space – or better yet, take a portable rig and get outside. Writing on the road can be great for inspiration. Take advantage of vacations or other trips to get out and write.In fact, many professional writers take, "songwriting vacations," to beautiful places like Hawaii or Vancouver Island.

10. Listen with fresh ears
Whether you think your song is; good, bad, a work in progress, or a finished hit, let it sit a few days and then come back to it with fresh ears. You may feel the need to start again from scratch, or you may discover it was better than you thought and just needs a finishing touch.