~ songwriters should be writing (lots of) songs

It's funny, because, whenever I tell people that FAWM means challenging yourself to write at least 14 songs in 28 days, in most cases the first response is either "I couldn't do that" or "I don't have time for that".

"February is Album Writing Month" deals directly with the "I couldn't do that" by giving you the licence to be mediocre, silly/stupid, to just run with it and write songs about anything and everything. I sometimes feel embarrassed by what I upload but I tell myself - that's the point. To let go of the end result, and push yourself to create.

The first time I did FAWM I wrote 3 songs. The next year I wrote 15. Last year I did 23. This year, 32. Most of them are just exercises in creativity, or sketches of ideas I think have merit. The point of doing FAWM is to do it.

But FAWM can't deal with "I don't have time for that." That's an issue that has greater significance than just during the month of February. If we are calling ourselves songwriters, then IMHO we need to be writing songs. Just like the person who wants to be a novelist gets up an hour early every day to write pages for their book, IMHO songwriters need to be scribbling something everyday. FAWM taught me how to find ideas. It taught me to think outside the lines. Being part of the FAWM community I am always in awe of the creativity and energy of the most active participants. Yet I think every one of them would say - they only push for the extreme numbers during FAWM.

What we are really doing in February is sketching out ideas or drafts to be re-written in March & April... and exercising our creative muscles.

As to quality versus quantity. I'm real believer in quality. But I think we can spend too much time with one song - get too attached to it, think too much of it, to the point where we can't see its flaws. In 2007 FAWM I carefully crafted each song and went over and over them again and again as the clock ticked down. After a week and 3 songs I realized I didn't have time to do that. FAWM helped me to let go and move on, trusting I could come back later. And, with the added advantage that when I come back, my eyes are fresh.

FAWM encourages us to create first, craft later. Therefore it supports both quantity and quality.

I could never back to the time when I wrote a song every few months. Now I write all the time. Even though FAWM is done, I got up this morning and starting drafting a new action instrumental.

It's just my personal practice, but I try to write something every day. It doesn't have to be a complete song, although sometimes it is. Sometimes it's the beats for a bedtrack. Sometimes it's adding to something I did yesterday. Sometimes it's starting a lyric.

I already said this but I'll say it again - one of the best things FAWM does for me, other than pushing me to create, is it makes me look for ideas in all kinds of places. Writer's block? Never.

I read a post somewhere over the last couple years that suggested we give ourselves structure by organizing our work something like this: e.g. February - writing; March - rewriting; April - recording. I think this might work for some folks. I'm always doing a jumble of all three, lol.


Phil Bennett said...

Hi...I will definately join FAWM and participate next year. I heard Vince Gill say onetime that you have to write through the bad or average songs to get to the good ones.(paraphrased)

Keep the faith and keep writing.



Jenelle said...

Hey vikki,

I was having a real "down" morning and turned to the internet for something to inspire me and I came upon your blog. I spent the morning reading through some of your past postings and I must say I feel a million times better. I just started songwriting this year and your words are so supportive and just what I needed to get myself out of my "I suck at life" rut. Its not often I get to feeling like this and I am so grateful for any help out I can get. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing about the importance of enjoying the process and sharing your love of your work. You are a real blessing!