I really struggled to write songs. And I mean struggle to the point of suffering from debilitating anxiety attacks. There was nothing more that I wanted than to play my songs, and record my songs and release my songs. But it took me months to finish writing a single song.
Dear Songwriter who struggles to finish songs,
I know you’ve been writing songs for sometime now. You’ve got pages of your songwriting book filled with sketched lyrics and dozens of voice memos in your phone, but you haven’t finished a song in a while.
And if you think about how long it’s been since you’ve finished a song, you start to feel bad about yourself. But it’s okay, you tell yourself you’re just waiting for inspiration to strike, for the timing to be right.
I hear you. I understand you. I used to be just like you. I really struggled to write songs. And I mean struggle to the point of suffering from debilitating anxiety attacks. There was nothing more that I wanted than to play my songs, and record my songs and release my songs. But it took me months to finish writing a single song.
You know how it looks. You get this wave of inspiration, you sit at your instrument, you work that idea for 15 minutes, then you hit a wall. That voice starts up again, “that’s not good, urgh, who even writes that, how could I possibly release this song”. So you walk away. You try again two weeks later. But it’s the same thing.
If it’s a good day, you can write a song in a short space of time and it feels so good in that moment. But those moments are rare. Very rare.
But you desperately want to be a better songwriter. You want to play your songs, and record your songs and release your songs and be living this life. But you need to finish songs to do that.
I totally get it because this is my story and that of so many other songwriters. But I have found the solution to finishing songs. And I’m going to share it with you. But I also shared it with Julie one and a half years ago. And since I shared it with Julie, she has just finished writing her 83rd song.
The words “not good enough” had plagued Julie her whole life. And now, aged 63, she has just released an album of 8 songs and is now doing something she never thought would be possible for her, not even a year ago.
This is really a very simple solution and it will transform your life if you do the work. It even works for first time songwriters. Mishell wrote her first song at the age of 38 in the middle of 2018. She has written 28 more songs since and just performed one of her songs for the first time to an audience of around 200 people.
And in case you think this solution is just for hobby songwriters, you are mistaken. As Mama Kin says, this “shook me out of my writing block and taught me new ways to write. I have it to thank for most of my songs on my latest album.” And that album was nominated for a 2018 ARIA Award (Mama Kin Spender – Golden Magnetic).
So do you want to know the solution to finishing songs? Are you ready?
Here it is. Picture this:
1. You’re sitting in front of your instrument. You’re picking up your pen and songwriting book and you are writing. You’re not actually caring about what comes out. But you’re writing anyway. Just start, write for an hour and finish the song. Stop at one hour and record your song.
2. Share that song with others. Let them listen to it. Practice letting go of your song and allow yourself to be supported. Feel others relate to you and what you are saying.
3. Practice supporting others. See the struggles that others have, relate to them, help them through it. You will see yourself and your songs through a different lens.
4. Do that every week.
Imagine if you were sitting here right now and you had just written your 226th song in 226 consecutive weeks. Who do you think you would be? How much more confidence would you have? How much more energy would you have? How much more conviction would you have to just pick up the phone and actually ask for a gig, book the recording studio, set your release date?
“Through the act of songwriting and the supportive and encouraging community, I found myself and the encouragement to let go of self-doubt” – Laudy Music
This is bigger than songs. Don’t get me wrong this is about songs, but it’s more than just the songs. It’s about who you will have become as a result of writing so many finished songs. And it’s in that becoming that you will be living the life you have always wanted. But let me tell you, this doesn’t happen overnight. This is a journey. But it can start now. Start now.
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Francesca de Valence is an Australian artist, award-winning songwriter, international speaker and coach, and founder of I Heart Songwriting Club; helping emerging singer-songwriters inspire their way to success in a music career they love. She has been acknowledged by the Los Angeles Music Awards with an International Songwriter of the Year Award and also holds an Australian Songwriting Award. Francesca has supported artists including Jimmy Webb, her music can be heard on ABC radio around Australia, and she performs regularly in Australia and Paris.
Francesca has a Masters in Music and has taught at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Griffith University. She is an in-demand speaker in areas of songwriting and creative and personal development (BIGSOUND, WAMCON, IMRO), facilitates songwriting workshops nationally and internationally for songwriters of all levels (QUT, WAAPA, QMusic) and has delivered successful long-term creative and songwriting development programs (MusicACT, Big Sky Girls).
She will be appearing at SXSW in March and has an upcoming speaking tour of Ireland in April 2019.