Songwriting Tip: Write First, Think Later

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Posted by Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers

Write first, think later. For songwriting as well as any other kind of creative writing, I’m a firm believer in this simple motto.

Most songs come together in two stages: the creation, when the initial inspiration takes hold; and the editing, when you identify the good stuff, cut the bad stuff, and try to improve the stuff somewhere in between. The creation stage is all about writing whatever comes out, without filtering or second-guessing yourself. The editing stage is more rational and pragmatic, because you use your craft and any tools at your disposal to make your song as good as it can be.

Many songwriters find that it’s relatively easy to get into the spontaneous creation mode for writing music—just grab your guitar and let yourself get swept away by the sound. For lyrics, writing freely can be trickier, especially because school has taught most of us to write according to logical, preplanned outlines. But the payoff is huge for developing your ability to write words without editing or analyzing what they mean. The more words, phrases, rhymes, and images you can spill out in the creation stage, when you are caught up in the moment, the more material you will have to work with in the editing stage.

Excerpted from Songwriting Basics for Guitarists: Free Writing

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