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What To Do When Your Song… Bores You

I’m working on a song and I lose interest in it because if I’m honest I have to admit that it bores me. Not everything in it, or the main idea… but something about it doesn’t excite me anymore… if it ever did.

I hate to admit how often this makes me want to give up on the song. Sometimes I do.

But, rather than quit, what I can do is ask myself, Exactly what is it that’s boring me? Is it the Verse lyric, say, or the melody? Is it the rhythm of the melody? Etc. This is diagnostic work; songwriting forensics.

And I know from past experience that if I can figure out what the problems are, and if I’m willing to work on them, I can often end up with a song that really does excite me.

If that’s the case, why do I want to quit on the song? In my case I think the answer is mostly simple Laziness. It’s too much like ‘work’ work. And who gets into songwriting to ‘work’ work!?

To actually identify where in the song the tedium is coming from, and then to go in to excavate and renovate to the degree necessary can be some heavy lifting. Having a song that needs this kind of work can be the most labor-intensive part of writing.

Going down a path that, partly, hasn’t worked out.
Admitting this to myself.
Retracing my steps; figuring out where I went wrong.
Separating the good from the bad.
Pulling out the rotten wood.
Rebuilding.

Though many writers say that rewriting is writing, this is not what we usually call the fun part!

But it is satisfying, when tempted to lose faith, to not give in, and to instead bring a song (or anything) back to life from the brink of oblivion. And, in my experience, it’s a space where powerful craft is built. And the value of that can’t be underestimated.

Sometimes it’s best to give up and move on . But sometimes rolling up my sleeves, decoding what the problem is, and then fixing it, is the way to go.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts, additions, disagreements in the Comments section below:

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5 responses to “What To Do When Your Song… Bores You”

  • Wayne Somerville

    “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” …Robert Frost. I agree that writing is rewriting, but there has to be something worth saving, some little magic in the song to begin with or you may just be beating a dead horse. Having said that, I think in the end songwriting is a mysterious thing but mostly hard work.

  • Wally

    A long time ago I read a story in the Reader’s Digest – yes, I am that old- about a writer
    of Western paperbacks, who. was so prolific that he had to use many pseudo names, to keep the market from being flooded with his works. He said something that made quite an impression on me, “He who would write a living word must sweat.”
    There was a time when I wanted to write but no longer do, while having conceded that I will not able to stop. Now I write poetry-which will not leave me alone-and still always try to do the best that I possibly can, so I sweat a lot. I could say more about my experiences but I know that everybody “writes poetry,” so that in itself is not a big thing and I’m long past the days of “vanity.”
    The reason for posting this is to share the line about sweating, to show that it affects even the most successful people- in any endeavor, not just writing – with the hope that it might be an encouragement to someone who reads this, by knowing that he/she has a lot of company in the sauna. I’ve Googled and searched quote books, trying to find the name of that famous writer but I’ve been able to do unable to do so and regret that I cannot share it.
    Thanks for the time and personal revelations that you put into this blog, Tony. Though I try to not write I really enjoy reading your posts and the responses to them.

    1. Wally

      When I posted this comment I got a message that I had made it previously. It is probably about “sweat” and, if that is the case, I sincerely apologize for repeating myself and you are most welcome to delete my comment, Tony.

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