Twelve Steps Of Songwriting - Lauren Mayer

Song posts

July 19, 2018

Twelve Steps Of Songwriting

1) Time to start a new song. With so much going on and so many late breaking stories in the news, there are so many possible topics I’m exhausted just thinking about it. For some reason, the only song coming to mind is Charlie Brown’s part of “The Book Report”, “If I start writing now when I’m not well rested, it could upset my thinking which is no good at all.” Obviously I should take a quick nap first.
2) The minute I lie down my mind starts arguing with itself like crazy (“I can always do parallels to Watergate?” “no, voter suppression is more important” “but the whole Roseanne tweetstorm thing is timely” “Ooh, can I find a way to cite that wonderful drug company statement, ‘While Ambien has many side-effects, racism is not one of them’” “Nah, the whole thing will blow over before I get a song done.”) Get up and figure I might as well start.
3) Since I still don’t have a topic, I decide to do a little web surfing, checking out some news sites, including satirical ones – oh man, why did Samantha Bee have to give the anti-media folks more ammunition? Ooh, there’s a pop up ad for a pair of shoes that look cute, I haven’t checked out Zappos in forever! No, I tell myself, pay attention and look for a topic.
4) I run across a reference to the famous Watergate question, “What Did The President Know – And When Did He Know It?”, and as I repeat the words a tune pops into my head. Great idea!, It’ll practically write itself.
5) Or not. Oh well, before writing, sometimes I warm up my creative juices by doing an online jigsaw puzzle, or three, but it sort of counts because I’m operating the mouse with my left hand, which I heard jump starts the other side of your brain, whichever is the more creative one and I keep forgetting which.
6) 45 minutes later I realize I have to get ready for a gig, and I still don’t have anything but the title and a tune idea. But I’m sure it’ll germinate while I’m doing other things and it’ll be much easier once I get back to writing.
7) I get back from my gig, and it’s late and I don’t write well when I’m tired (see Step one, above). I’ll get some sleep and start when I’m fresh.
8) The next morning, I have oodles of time, so I warm up again, this time with online Mah Jongg (but also using my left hand, which I hear also helps improve memory so maybe I can eventually remember which side of my brain I’m trying to activate to be more creative).
9) 30 minutes later, I see the list of phone calls I was supposed to return, which I better tackle first because it’s hard to write when I’m distracted. After I finish the phone calls, I notice my coffee is cold, so I go to the kitchen to heat up a fresh cup. Dang, I really should do those dishes. And re-organize my refrigerator. And it’s been awhile since I alphabetized my spices . . .
10) Back at my desk, I start wondering what else I need to clear up before I can write with an unencumbered mind, and realize I’m procrastinating. Which would make a really funny essay!
So I’ll write that first.
11) Okay, that’s done, time to get back to writing the song. Only by this point it’s lunch time and I’m really hungry, not to mention tired from writing the essay, cleaning the kitchen, etc. – procrastination can be exhausting, which is not the best frame of mind for writing (see Step one, above)
12) I write the damn song.

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