What does it mean to be a Songwriter?
Well… if you write songs, you’re a songwriter. That’s the simple answer. The quality of the songs may be open to eternal debate… but if you write ‘em…
There’s also a state of mind involved. Songwriters think and see the world like a songwriter. That is, we see the world as full of potential songs .
When people at the next table are talking, their conversation is full of potential lyrics and Titles. When you play a guitar or your hand falls on a piano keyboard, the potential first chord of a song is there. When a little phrase of melody gets stuck in your head… that may be the first line of your song, or its Chorus. When you play someone else’s song, it can give you an idea for your new one.
One of my brothers is an extremely talented, hard-working comedian and comedy writer. His mind is trained, by years of practice, to take what comes into his world and turn it into something funny. As a person, in life, he’s not always trying to be funny. But he’s a professional – give him something to work with and he can turn it into something that stands a good chance of making a lot of people laugh.
Similarly, we as songwriters get in the habit of taking what comes onto our radar screen and turning it into music and words – songs. We develop the state of mind, the mental practice, of being a songwriter.
And the more we write, far from becoming ‘written out’, it usually seems that there are more things to write about, and the more our ‘songwriting mindfulness’ seems to grow.
The act of songwriting feeds the state of mind of songwriting… and the state of mind feeds the act.
So there is paying attention, as a songwriter, to life – and to other songs, music, and writing – and learning to look for those ideas that resonate for us and might turn into songs. And then there is just writing a lot of songs – this is what makes the whole creative mechanism real and keeps it moving forward.
It’s all an action. Doing the writing is action… but actively paying attention to picking up the song ideas that are floating around us (and writing them down or recording them) is a conscious act too.
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