Songwriting – Helpful hints

By Ayo Awosika, Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Ayo Awosika, Voice & Piano Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Ayo Awosika

Once a month, songwriters will gather at The Lesson Studio for a Singer Songwriter Class I host that focuses on sharing ideas, songs, and lyrics. As songwriters, one difficulty we face can actually be a lack of ideas. Where does our inspiration come from? Our own experiences? A fictional character or story? Some days ideas flow out of us like they were just waiting to be released, and other times it feels like we can’t find any words to express the things we want to.

I once took a Songwriting course with wonderfully talented songwriter Mark Simos (written for Allison Krauss among others) and he introduced me to the concept of object writing; an exercise for songwriters that is not only beneficial, but can be essential to our writing process. The way that object writing is usually presented for songwriters ( e.g. in Pat Pattison’s books – if you haven’t checked them out, do!) is as a technique that teaches us how to focus, be more detailed in our writing, engage and utilize our senses, and be free while keeping ourselves within a few guidelines.

Here’s what you do. Sit down with a pen and paper (or laptop if that works better). Pick a subject – it could be anything from a dirty sock to a piece of fruit. Set a timer for say, 5 minutes. Remind yourself of the 5 senses (sight, taste, touch, sound, smell), and write freely for 5 minutes everything you can think and feel about that subject. Don’t censor yourself! Even if your mind begins to wander and through free association you begin to write about another topic (ex. Dirty sock -laundry detergent – a teddy bear – cuddle -a warm bed – taking a nap) that’s ok! Let it happen. The idea of this exercise is to be in the moment; you may do 100 object-writing exercises that you never look at again – but you will have learned much from the repeated process.

It works best as an early morning exercise, stimulating and engaging our writing mind for the rest of the day. Mark refers to it as “morning pages” (much like the well-known morning process from  the book “The Artists’ Way”)

So!

The key things to remember:

–  Stick to a strict time limit. Do not allow yourself to write more or less than the time that you allot even if you feel like you need to.

–  Don’t write in any verse forms, or with rhymes – just allow yourself to free write. The idea is to come up with material that may or may not be used later.

–  Remember to use your senses so you are describing all aspects of the object.

–  This is fun! It’s not about using this exercise to write your next hit song, (although it could be!)

Happy Writing!

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