Advice from a Writer on How to Be a Better Songwriter

Zac HicksUncategorizedLeave a Comment

 

I’m over half-way through Fred Sanders’ marvelous book, The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything.  He recently posted about 10 practices of a successful writer.  I thought this was not only sound advice may have some cross-over application for songwriters.  If, indeed, these truths do cross over, I know I have a long way to go in living up to them.   

  1. Read widely, and read for craft.
  2. For theologians: Reading for craft means you’re going to have to read more than just theology.
  3. Get interested.
  4. Get critiques if you can.
  5. Catch yourself doing something good, and try to keep doing it.
  6. Revise.
  7. Write a lot.
  8. Don’t think very hard about the audience.
  9. Try to be helpful.
  10. Make top ten lists.

Here’s my attempt at crossing these over.  How well do they stand up?

  1. Listen widely, and listen for craft.
  2. For rock musicians: Listening for craft means you’re going to have to listen to more than just rock.
  3. Get interested.
  4. Get critiques if you can.
  5. Catch yourself doing something good, and try to keep doing it.
  6. Revise.
  7. Write a lot of music, make a lot of music.
  8. Don’t think very hard about the audience.
  9. Try to be (???).
  10. Make top ten lists.

Perhaps of all, #8 surprises me, both for writers and for songwriters.  Anyone disagree?  I’m still thinking about that one.  I do have a friend who is a freelance jazz musician who commented that once he made the switch to stop caring about pleasing other people when he played, the result was that he was a better, freer musician and he received more positive feedback about his music.  Interesting.

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