How to get past the unfinished song

Thursday, 31 Oct 2019

Our Meet the Locals event series kicked off last week, featuring I Heart Songwriting Club’s founder, singer/songwriter Francesca de Valence. In the last week alone, Francesca’s been to Hobart, Bendigo, Shepparton, Wagga Wagga, Bega, Canberra and Wollongong, meeting our local songwriter members of the area, sharing with them practical tips to overcome their biggest songwriting barriers and helping to connect them to their local community and the global community in I Heart Songwriting Club.

We asked Francesca to share some insights from these sessions, and provide some tips on conquering writer’s block and getting the most out of your creative practice. Over to you, Francesca.

A common problem: the unfinished song

This year alone, I’ve run workshops as far north as Dublin, Ireland and as far south as Dunedin, New Zealand, and what I’m noticing is that songwriters all have the same big problem, no matter where they live.

And that one big shared problem is unfinished song ideas: hundreds of phone memos of melodic ideas, pages of lyric ideas, stuck, unmoving, not going anywhere.

And the reasons for this problem are different for everyone and include:
- I don’t have time to write
- I struggle to get into the right headspace to write
- My ideas aren’t good enough
- I’ll do it tomorrow, when I’m on holidays, when I retire.
- I’m afraid of writing a bad song…

Sound familiar?

They tell me, too, that they get stuck because they don’t know the next step to take, they don’t have theory skills, singing skills, instrumental skills. I love sharing with them ways they can take next steps now and see results in just three months or less. You can’t know it all ahead of time. The discovery of what you learn and come to know is all part of the process.

Conquering self-doubt

They also name self-doubt as a strong reason for not being consistent with their songwriting. One gentleman from Canberra shared, “I like the song when I write it, but the next day I doubt everything I’ve done and so I throw it in the bin.” But then he gets stuck. He almost breathed a sigh of relief when I shared with him how I give myself permission to write a bad song and then move on and then write another one. And what I’ve discovered from not only writing over 300 songs myself but helping thousands of other songwriters, only two out of every ten songs you write are worth doing something with anyway. So just let it be, finish it and move on.

Road test your song

Isolation is another big problem and I’m noticing this isn’t just attributed to living in regional or remote areas.

It’s not that people are necessarily alone, per se. Sure, they have friends and family. But friends and family aren’t peers. And peers get it. Peers are people that write songs too. As songwriters, we need peers to bounce creative ideas off, to help encourage each other to keep going, to see beyond a song sketch and see the potential for where that song could go beyond the page and the voice memo.

You can’t road test your song in your room by yourself - you need to share it with peers, connect with a community, play it or share it in some capacity to be able to get feedback and become a more robust and resilient songwriter.

These were all my problems too, until I discovered the keys to moving past this.

I’m on the road again next week. It’s not too late to RSVP to come to Meet the Locals featuring I Heart Songwriting Club in Margaret River and Bunbury. See you soon, WA.

Good news WA: each session also features DIY Touring tips from Blue Child Collective's Dan White.

Mon 4 Nov
doors 5:30pm, 6:00pm-9:00pm event
includes DIY Touring presentation with Dan White
RSVP Eventbrite

Tues 5 Nov
doors 5:30pm, 6:00pm-9:00pm event
includes DIY Touring presentation with Dan White
RSVP Eventbrite 

If you couldn't attend this round of Meet The Locals, there's plenty of opportunity to to be part of I Heart Songwriting Club. If you want to connect with our global community of songwriters, write songs every week, get feedback and make songwriting fun again, then I Heart Songwriting Club is your community.

Get 30% off your first 10-week term in The Club for all APRA AMCOS members

And if you’re a total beginner, get an additional 20% off for our online and mentored Adults or Kids Courses. 

Thanks for coming out to Meet the Locals, Canberra!

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