MAINTAINING THE SONGHOUSE
If you don't maintain your house things start to deteriorate. It's been a few weeks since I talked about the SongHouse, and look at the state of it!
To avoid this happening with your own writing, and to help you out of creative ruts there are a few practice techniques you can try:
Flow of conscious / Free writing
You are a writer, that means you WRITE. You are not an EDITOR in this exercise!
Start by setting yourself a short time, maybe just 1 or 2 minutes. Use a timer with an alarm.
Settle in your favourite chair or space with a comfortable book, or notepad and a pen that you find easy to write with.
Start the timer and START writing. DON’T stop writing. DON’T take your pen off the page. DON’T think or edit, or stop, or pause. If you don’t have a clue what to write, just write - “no idea what to say, but I have to keep writing etc etc”. This exercise can be painful the first few times, but it's an exercise you cannot do wrong. What you are learning to do is NOT EDIT as you write. It doesn’t matter if it's garbage, or the best prose you’ve ever written. It's just writing as your thoughts flow to whatever comes next. I recommend you always keep the time short, and STOP on the timer, EVEN if you are mid sentence.
Do this daily for a week, and you will start to notice a change. You will get into the flow faster, you will write less gibberish.
This is a good exercise to KILL “WRITER’S BLOCK”. The Writer is not the problem, it’s that damn internal editor that spoils your fun.
Similar to the free writing in that you set a timer, but this time perhaps for 5 minutes. With this exercise you can choose to extend the timer up to a max of 20 minutes as you become more confident.
This time you choose an object. Open the dictionary at random and pick a word.
Start the timer, start writing. This time you can pause and think, but this time use your five senses to imagine and describe the object. Avoid the obvious sense of sight, and focus on the other four.
E.g. if your word was ‘Tree’ then you could describe the smell of fresh pine, sweet sawdust, or a touch that rips at your skin or feels like wisdom of age, tasting like a chewed pencil, soft and malleable etc.
In addition to these also add: BODY, and MOTION.
BODY means imagining that the ‘object’ or ‘word’ is a person, how would that person be?
E.g. if your word was ‘Tree’, then this could be tall and aloof.
MOTION means think about how it moves, or how it might move if it was alive.
E.g. if your word was ‘Tree’ then this could be swaying hair with birds living in it.
Just like before, when the timer goes off, STOP, even if you are mid sentence. It will make you all the more keen next time.
For a series of ideas and more detail about this technique, search out the book “SongWriting without Boundaries” by Pat Pattison.
Watch a film and look for interesting dialogue as a starter idea
You might do this already, but it’s a good way to get something started. Songs these days are often conversational so using real dialogue is a good way to begin an idea. As a songwriter I always have my ‘ear aerials’ ready to pick up on an interesting sentence or line someone might say. Most importantly when you do hear it, write it down immediately. You tell yourself you’ll remember, but chances are you won’t.
You can decide if you like the idea later. Leave that EDITOR asleep on the couch.
Write a rhyming couplet
This is usually two lines of text where the ending rhymes, either perfectly or even just having a similar vowel sound. Songs are often made up of such couplets forming neat little packages of song goodness you can store for another day.
I recently wrote:
“You used to laugh at my photographs
Now you judge like a polygraph”
No idea how I could use those, but they are stored for another day!
Write just a Chorus
So that might sound harder than you imagine! Just take one of your ideas and just write around that feeling or image. Have rhymes, have duplication. Just stick to the central idea only. You don’t need to think about context or storyline, just the main theme. It can be as short or as long as you want.
Today I help singers and songwriters explore their own potential. I encourage them to see new ways to view their creative chaos, working alongside to structure them into fully finished songs they are proud of.
Contact me and let’s begin that journey together…