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Thread: How to write songs, when you have absolutely nothing to write about?

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    How to write songs, when you have absolutely nothing to write about?

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    Hi, well anyway I'm a 17 year old musician struggling to write a set of songs for the cd I'm currently recording. This will be the follow up to a collection of folk, Nintendo styled jazz, and blues I recorded in late 2007 and early 2008. Anyway after a year of neglecting songwriting and music in general I am heading back into the "studio" to record a new set of songs, this time with drums, etc and I will be abandoning the acoustic song (which is frankly kind of boring). I actually tried recording songs a few months ago and I came back with terrible results (the songs were way overarranged and I wasn't experienced enough as a producer). I don't want to go through the same nightmare and try to record them again so I'm deciding to start completely fresh.

    But this brings up the problem; I have tons of inspiration when it comes to arranging and producing, but very little in terms of songwriting. I don't have a "girl" to write about which is the crutch for most male songwriters, and I have absolutely no social life to speak of. I am a very talented songwriter and I have some experience producing records (I made an experimental/comedy/midi instrumental album in late 2006 and I made two follow ups in 2007, besides the folk album I recorded) but I feel like I don't have a definite musical purpose and I lack the type of creative spark that drove my last record.

    Can you offer me any advice on this? I really would appreciate the help.

    Thank you,

    Devin (Toasta Whales)

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    Writer's block hits most writers from time to time and there are many ways you could approach this.....I'll share some of the things I do. I've been married 30 years so I don't have any of the angst of young love to write about (I actually avoid writing love songs....they just seem too obvious). Given that I've already written over 200 songs (over many years)....trying to avoid repeating myself is always a challenge - so I'm always looking for a new "subject".

    1. I often have a guitar in hand (even while watching the TV) - or I spend hours doodling on a keyboard. As I doodle, I find chord progressions and/or riffs which create a "mood" - that in turn often may get me scatting a melody line.....which eventually starts to develop into a few words or a phrase. At some point, some of those words seem like a great hook or song titile. Once I have that much.... I then depend on my writing skills to develop a story line.

    2. I read alot (newpapers, magazines, books, etc.) - sometimes I'll find a subject that interests me and I'm motivated to write about it - or use the characters in the story as a starting point for my own story line.

    3. I listen to a lot of CDs (I often go to rummage sales and buy CDs for $1 or $.50 or even $.25). If I can buy CD's that cheaply - I don't care if I know who the artist is....or even what genre it may be (I can always find at least one song on any given CD that I enjoy or which inspires me). As I listen to all these CDs (I probably listen to 5-6 "new" CDs every week) - I often hear a phrase or a story line that inspires me to "borrow" the phrase or use part of the story to develop my own story line.

    I'm a firm believer that the only way to develop and improve writing skills.......is to keep writing - something, every day. Naturally, this means that I write a lot of crap.......but in all that crap I occasionally find a jewel.

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    I agree the xdrummer guy. it's tough but swallow your pride and write, even if it's obvious and derivative. You can always go back and fix the problem points in a song. I went through a 3 year writer's block. Most of it do to my pretentious nature. I expect more from myself than I probably should. I get the feeling that you do the same.

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    "I am a very talented songwriter..."
    Well, there you go. A very talented songwriter is someone who writes the whole song in a very talented way. If, however, you have trouble writing lyrics then you'd be a very talented composer who is in need of lyrical inspiration or a lyricist.
    Having the "girl" or fellow isn't the crutch for songwriters - it's usually the lack of one or, more likely, imagining being without etc that spurs the loveydovey or lovelorn lyric.
    Write stuff down, go back later & pick out the useful bits, rewrite etc.
    Take the lyric from a fav song & using the structure & rhyming scheme - re write it.
    I've written a lyric or two & only an extremely small % are "love" related. I write about war, social problems, mental health, famous people, infamous events, relationships, politics etc. The inspiration is from living, watching, doing, experiencing & caring. The motivation comes from a need to explain, instruct, redirect, amplify, point to something bothering me or I consider worthy of notice.
    If your having trouble writing lyrics get a life or get a lyricist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Toasta Whales View Post
    Hi, well anyway I'm a 17 year old musician struggling to write a set of songs for the cd I'm currently recording. This will be the follow up to a collection of folk, Nintendo styled jazz, and blues I recorded in late 2007 and early 2008. Anyway after a year of neglecting songwriting and music in general I am heading back into the "studio" to record a new set of songs, this time with drums, etc and I will be abandoning the acoustic song (which is frankly kind of boring). I actually tried recording songs a few months ago and I came back with terrible results (the songs were way overarranged and I wasn't experienced enough as a producer). I don't want to go through the same nightmare and try to record them again so I'm deciding to start completely fresh.

    But this brings up the problem; I have tons of inspiration when it comes to arranging and producing, but very little in terms of songwriting. I don't have a "girl" to write about which is the crutch for most male songwriters, and I have absolutely no social life to speak of. I am a very talented songwriter and I have some experience producing records (I made an experimental/comedy/midi instrumental album in late 2006 and I made two follow ups in 2007, besides the folk album I recorded) but I feel like I don't have a definite musical purpose and I lack the type of creative spark that drove my last record.

    Can you offer me any advice on this? I really would appreciate the help.

    Thank you,

    Devin (Toasta Whales)
    Wow, all that experience and talent at a whole 17 years old and you can't write?

    Just write whatever. You can't/won't reinvent the wheel and it's very unlikely you have anything worthwhile to say at 17. Hell I'm 36 and don't have anything worthwhile to say and love it. You're overthinking this. Act your age and make it fun.

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    Man Greg that may have been a little rough on the boy. Some people have lived a lifetime in 17 years. My Nephew is 15 and writes some good things. Anyway, Toasta I understand what your going through. I did not have friends and things when I was your age. My life was my music. Day and night I would stay in my room and listen to music. Lots of lonely times. I started writing about 9 months ago and have had people tell me they are as good as things they hear on the radio. Some of that is real crap so I'm not sure to take that as a complement or not. I started writing because things that were going on in my life at the time. I must admit, I didn't know I had it in me. Think of what your going through and write about that. Think about this, John Lennon (The Beatles) wrote a song bassed of a poster for a festival. The song was Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite.
    Most of the song was written directly from the poster. What a concept. A song I could relate to when I was your age was a song by (The Beach Boys- Brian Wilson) called In My Room. If you can find the 2 songs I mentioned give them a listen to. They may give you some inspiration. Keep it up and don't quit because you will regret it latter in life.

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    Write about not being able to write.

    Change things up in your life. Make new friends, go new places.

    Stay on top of current events.
    Give my Koch a Bogner so I can Fuch!

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    Writers block doesn't exist. Well, it does if you think it does. It's like voodoo. It can kill those who believe in it.

    It's many years since I was 17 and I'm not sure this is an age thing anyway. But at 17 I'd been playing trumpet for 10 years and guitar for a year. I'd also been writing poems for 10 years and songs for about 5 years or so.

    Almost nothing remains of those early efforts. Like you, I had no girlfriends or social life then either, except with a band I'd joined, and all we did was rehearse... There were no girls hanging out with that band!

    Most of my poems and lyrics in those days were about the angst of having no girl friend, or lost loves (that I'd never had anyway...), mystical situations and some comedy bits and pieces.

    You can write. There's plenty of tips out there and tricks to get you going. I can remember at 16, 17 or 18 cutting out individual words from magazine articles and putting loads in a big paper bag, shaking it, and drawing them out one by one and juggling the order of them until I got something that inspired a line for a song or poem.

    You can write. I have to qualify that though by saying that just because you can write, doesn't mean others will like or appreciate your efforts!

    There's the rub.

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    just sing. I mean that. Life is multi deminisonal thing, that is ozzing songs. I am looking out my window as I type. A million songs come to me. Songs about the yard, the birds, the neighbors, the gray sky, the heat, the dreams I have sitting here, wondering who lived in this 100 year old house, the worries and joys going on next door, lost loves and dreams that have occurred here......... Just tap into that, and you will never struggle to find a song.
    walter tore's spontobeat -a performance art painter who spontaneously uses his voice and instruments for brushes.

    http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page...?bandID=157137

    http://www.youtube.com/user/waltertore

    http://www.myspace.com/71994638

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    I have tons of inspiration when it comes to arranging and producing, but very little in terms of songwriting...... I am a very talented songwriter....
    I was going to to say something about the "Talented Songwriter" who can't write.... but I see others beat me to the punch.

    Songwriting is an artform that has to be developed, just like painting or writing books or playing an instrument. Practice everyday. You don't have to write about yourself or your own life experiences. Part of being an artist is to have the ability to describe something you've never seen or experienced. Like a sci-fi novelist who writes about life on other planets. Obviously he's never been there before, but can place the raeader ther and make it believeable.

    You've got something to say, everyone does. Hell, you're on an internet forum posting about something.... if you can do that, you can write a song.

    have fun.

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