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Actually Finishing Songs

Season 2 Episode 12 Semi-controversial thesis: The main thing stopping people from writing songs on a regular basis is that they don't actually finish the songs they start. OK, so this isn't that controversial, but if you're someone who wants to write and is trying to on a regular basis, statements such as that can feel like a personalized attack on your efforts. In positing this thesis, I'm not trying to dismiss or belittle anyone's experiences or writing, because I've been there. I've spent a long time starting songs and not really doing anything with them beyond the beginning writing phases. For a while, I would get an idea for a tune, work on it for a bit, maybe develop a chorus or verse, and then just leave it half-finished. I never really got past that initial burst off inspiration. Even if I did miraculously somehow finish one of these tunes into a full-fledged song, most (if not all) the material I wrote during this time just sat on a hard-drive or in a note book. This stuff never really saw the light of day. So ya. The struggle to actually get material finished is real. And if you're in it right now, I hear ya. I've been there. And, while I don't claim to have it all figured out, hopefully the conversation we're having today on the Honest Songwriter can help you find some direction towards actually getting those songs finished. Recently on the podcast we've been going through a mini-series on finding the starting points to songs .Getting the dang thing started is the first major block that people who want to write songs encounter. They have the desire, but they don't know where to get started. This happens to both newbies and experienced songwriters alike. So we did a deep-dive on some ideas on how to get songs started. Throughout these conversations we built up a framework for how to find those little things that get the ball rolling on tunes. And we talked a bit about how to take those ideas and develop them further into larger song ideas. So we've spent a long time discussing that first major block to songwriting. And hopefully, if you've been listening along recently, you've got a handful of tunes started! Now is the time when the second major block to writing, (and in my opinion this is the one most writers get hung-up on): actually finishing songs. You've got the ideas percolating, you've got over the first big hurdle of believing in yourself to get songs going, but now you don't know how to put the final punctuation on the tune(s) you're working on. I've seen more writers get stuck here than with anything else. They've got a bunch of tunes in the works, but they never quite seem to get to the point of calling the songs “finished.” I'm certain that some of you reading this and/or listening to the podcast can relate. Like I mentioned earlier, I was in this place for a really long time as a writer. It reminds me of advice Ray Bradbury gave to young writers. It was something to the effect of: “Simply write. It'll get rid of all those moods you're having.” It's not rocket science in concept, but it definitely can be difficult to implement in your own writing process. Someone saying “Just write!” doesn't necessarily help when you're stuck in the middle of a tune and you hate all the ideas you're coming up with to finish them. What do you do when you're in the trenches like that? The biggest thing that has helped me has been dividing “Creating” and “Editing” into two separate actions in my head. If you think about it, they really are. These require two different mindsets to be successful. Creating is about expanding and including new things. Editing is about cutting away everything unnecessary. They are two sides to the same breath: inhale and exhale. And treating them as such, allowing each of them their own special phase in the process, has helped me move past that second block into regularly finishing the songs I've started.

Om Podcasten

15-20 minutes of regular, open conversation about songwriting, what it's like to be a songwriter, and how to keep improving at the craft of songwriting. New episodes every three weeks!