Any Forward Movement Is Progress

Typically, songwriting is painstakingly slow for me. Some songs literally take years to finish. I've tried many techniques to speed up the process, but it's not my lack of ideas keeping me from developing a cohesive song. I just can't stop overthinking things.

Here's a Greatest Hits of any given writing session:

- Fixating on one tiny detail for an hour and realizing I've barely touched the rest of the song
- Immediately hating the first lyric, chord progression, or rhythm I try out
- Deciding I need a fully realized, complete idea formed in my head before ever giving it any sense of tangibility
- Thinking my current experimental idea isn't as good as [famous Grammy and/or Oscar winning musician]'s songs
- Generally losing focus on whatever I started out on to begin with

It's a hurdle to overcome, to be sure. And look! I have two anecdotes directly relating to this, and I'll start with the disappointing one so you have something to look forward to:

1) I challenged myself one evening to finish a complete song idea in one hour. I had a simple synth line written and some placeholder drums programmed in, and I was going to flesh out the rest of the song (lyrics and all) in 60 minutes.

Spoiler alert: I failed horribly. Though some good did come out in the form of some additional guitar parts and a (VERY) rough draft of lyrics & melody, I still ran over an hour and was wholly mortified at what I had committed to hard disk. It was embarrassingly bad. But I slept on it, returned first thing in the morning, and rewrote what I couldn't stand. It turned out okay, and if I never tried finishing it in an hour it might've taken another few months to figure the rest out.

2) A few weeks later, I sat down for an unplanned studio writing session. In a few hours, I developed a brand new song and followed it through to its completion with barely any second-guessing or unrealistic expectation. I tried out a new softsynth, and stumbled on a sound that completely engrossed me. I hit Record and improvised a full chord progression and melody.

What followed just... possessed me. I was listening to someone else's song and falling in love with it, only the sound was originating from whatever keys I was playing. And yeah, I know that sounds ridiculously narcissistic but I don't know how else to describe it. 99% of the time I loathe what I write. But this sucked me in, and after adding some light texture and color to it I dared not add more for fear of ruining whatever it was that had me so entranced in the first place.

So what did I learn from these two experiences? Well, I can't bank on #2 happening frequently. It's likely my #1 situation will be the norm when approaching any new writing session. But I hold out hope that the more I "practice" writing, the higher the probability I'll stumble across a gem of inspiration that reminds me why I love music in the first place. The important point is that I need to KEEP WRITING, despite the majority of disappointment and difficulty, because if I allow #1 to keep me from trying, there's a 100% chance #2 will not happen again.

Obviously this is a specific circumstance regarding song composition, but this can apply to any form of creativity. If you're getting in your own way trying to create something, I totally empathize. It sucks, and it makes you avoid pursuing your passions, but just keep at it. I will.


Speaking of, I told you all I was going to finish writing this Data Lecher album in May. Well I'm up to 9 completed songs, with another 4-6 half-finished ideas that I'm working hard on finishing. It's crunch time, so wish me luck.

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