There are so many reasons why artists write their own music. Some of the more popular reasons why people write songs, probably are:
- They feel they have something to say- many people have a message they want to get across, sometimes it’s for moral or religious reasons, and sometimes it’s to uplift or to inspire. Other times the writer is promoting an idea or cause they believe in.
- They were inspired to write- Ever heard of people saying they woke up with an idea in their head, or that they were “given” a song, and didn’t know where it came from? Inspiration can strike at any time.
- They enjoy performing and want to perform their own songs- Some artists are born performers and love to be on stage, but not necessarily like performing covers. They then rather write their own songs, trying to define themselves as performers.
- Writing is therapy- Sometimes it feels good to bleed on paper, to scream, vent and get it all out on paper. Sometimes you don’t want anyone to ever perform it, but just want to get stuff of your chest.
- They simply love the process- These writers just enjoy writing. So they do. This is probably my favourite type of writer- practice never makes perfect, but it makes you a damn good writer in the end.
Discovering your true motivation for writing can help you figure out how and what to write. If you write for yourself, you write differently than if you are writing for others to perform. Writing for therapy is completely different than just writing to write. Many of us write for all of these reasons at one time or another. Give it some thought. Figure out what causes you to write songs and you’re onto something interesting.
Melody is natural. It is one line. It can be imagined. It can be heard in your mind. This means it is one of the greatest vehicles for unlocking creativity. So what is creativity? Creativity to me is not necessarily coming up with something ground-breaking for the world. Creativity is really about coming up with something that is ground-breaking in your world. It is about making a new connection with things that you already know.
So how should you approach creativity? It is not something that you can just approach head on, and say you are going to be creative. Instead you have to trick it. The best way to do this is to remove inhibition. By this I mean, you want to stop censoring yourself and accept the ideas you have created. The best way to do this is to not stop while you’re composing. When you get an idea, run with it. Write it down, and continue writing it down, until you have all of it.
Melody to me is the heart and soul of music, because melody is something we can all relate to. It is what you hum to yourself when you are alone.
If anyone was hoping to stumble on a secret formula, that hope should quickly be shattered. As Motown legend Lamont Dozier once said: “I’ve written about 78 top 10 songs, and I still don’t know what a hit is. I can only go by what I feel. The world doesn’t need any more good songs. What we need are great songs.” Or, to take the idea a bit further, the enemy of great is good.
One of the advantages of being a songwriter instead of a performer is that, while artists have a hard time recovering their reputation when a record bombs, the only time the public pays attention to who wrote a song is when it’s a hit. Most people don’t realise that, even for successful writers, the good-v-great ratio is low: Guy Chambers, acclaimed song writer for artists like Robbie Williams, Kylie Minogue, Katie Melua, James Blunt, The Wanted, Tina Turner and many more, has written more than 1,000 songs in the last 15 years, of which 21 ranked in the top 10 – that’s one hit for every 47 songs. That may sound like a frustrating process, but most writers would agree it’s necessary to write non-hits to get to the nuggets. As with athletes, it’s important to exercise the writing muscle.