Unless you’re collaborating with other writers, or writing for your own band, songwriting can be a solitary endeavor. It requires a lot of time alone. You’re left in your writing room day after day, night after day, fighting the twin demons of indecision and procrastination.
That’s why it can be very useful to have a songwriting buddy, says Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Lorde.
“If you are writing on your own, have someone whose opinion you really trust and who cares about what you’re doing and isn’t gonna judge you in a weird way,” the 17-year-old New Zealander recently told Rookiemag.com. “Send them stuff and ask them what they think.”
Lorde added: “I started out writing music with Joel [New Zealand musician, producer and songwriter Joel Little], who is still my co-writer. I never showed my music to anyone else … but if I hadn’t had him as a sounding board, it would’ve been difficult.”
As Lorde found with Joel Little, 31, your buddy can be a musician friend or a fellow songwriter you respect – someone who will give you a chance to think out loud and be a sounding board for your new ideas.
Alternatively, your songwriting buddy could be a special person that you trust and who will always give you an honest opinion. It could be your girlfriend, boyfriend, best friend, husband or wife – someone you can play a new song to without feeling embarrassed or self-conscious.
Ideally, though, your buddy should be someone who understands songwriting and whose encouragement, experience and insight will help you gain momentum and confidence in your own writing.
“As a young songwriter, I would put a lot of pressure on myself,” Lorde told Rookiemag.com. “I’d write a line and then aggressively backspace … I would just censor myself so heavily. I felt like there wasn’t room for me to write a bad song or write something that didn’t necessarily fit with my vibe or whatever.”
Many writers will admit that they’re often not the best judge of their own material, regardless of their level of experience or success. It is easy to get so close to a song that you can’t tell if it is truly finished or still has some weaknesses.
That’s why a songwriting buddy can provide unbiased feedback at the crucial re-writing stage – before you start spending time and money on making a demo. He or she can give you valuable criticism (or praise) from an outside perspective.
“At the same time though, try not to get too hung up on what other people think,” said Lorde. “At the end of the day, if you think something’s cool and everyone else thinks it sucks then you’ve still made something which you’re proud of.”
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