How many times have you started out excited about a song, only to feel frustrated and sometimes just plain uninspired 2 hours later?
The key to those moments is figuring out where you went wrong, so you can get your song back on track instead of just giving up.
Last week, I gave you a list of five songwriting tweaks to turn a good song into great. If you missed that post, you can read it here.
Here are 5 more questions to ask yourself to keep your song on track.
6. Have you engaged the senses?
Engaging the senses with your songwriting brings the listener into your story. Our 5 human senses are: sight, smell, taste, sound and touch. We also have some non-traditional senses such as our kinetic sense. Explore all these senses in your songwriting. Some questions you might ask yourself might be: What do I see? What do I hear? What do I smell? What’s going on in my body as I’m feeling this emotion? What do I touch? What’s happening around me?
Good lyrics use senses and thoughts together to get a point or emotion across.
7. Do the lyrics “tick and tie” with the title or main theme?
As you’re writing your song, ask yourself: have you answered the questions? Do the lyrical lines make sense with each other and all tie back to the chorus idea? Is there clarity to the words? Can the listener understand what’s going on?
8. Did you progress deeper into the story?
Is the continuing story giving us some more information? This is particularly challenging on the verses after your first chorus because where do you go that you haven’t already gone? How do you get out of “2nd verse hell” ? The remedy is to give more information about the character(s) or situation. What else do you want the listener to know? Ask yourself, what’s the risk for the singer in the song? Or how can you solve the problem?
9. Is the title compelling?
There are a million songs out there with average titles. But which title is more compelling to you? “I don’t want you to be sad” or “Blue Ain’t Your Color”.
10. Are you saying something universal in a different and unique way?
This is the holy grail of songwriting, right? To say something that has been said a million times before but saying it in a new and different way. Is there a way to twist a cliche that makes it seem fresh and new? Is there a way to say something universal that hasn’t been said that way before? Are you writing from your authentic voice? Are you writing in a derivative way or from “your bones”, in a way that only you can? Good writing is daring and brave and breaks new ground.
So ask yourself these questions as you’re writing your next song. You can even print them out and keep them on the wall of your writing room.
And if you missed my last post, click here for 5 more tweaks that will make or break your song.
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