This article is excerpted from the forthcoming book, Songwriting Demystified, and previously appeared in Songwriter’s Monthly.
by Christopher Kent
IMAGINE this scene: you’re sitting at home and the weather outside has given you a great idea for a song. You’re going to compare your feelings for your lover to a thunderstorm. You find your notebook, turn to a clean sheet of paper, and write:
The first time that I saw you
I heard the thunder roll
Your eyes were filled with lightning
I began to lose control…
You think about this for a minute. No, you decide, it’s a little too corny and melodramatic. You cross it out, and after a minute you write:
‘Twas a dark and stormy evening
When you came into my life…
No way, you think, crossing it out. Too cliched. You try again:
There’s a storm that’s brewing in my heart
For a lover just like you…
No, somehow it still doesn’t sound right. Not only that, but you have the sinking feeling that each attempt is worse than the one before. Frustration begins to set in. After a dozen more tries you start thinking there must be something wrong with you, and you close the notebook in disgust. At this point your creative juices have totally dried up, and you spend the next few hours in a bad mood watching “I Love Lucy” reruns.
Most of us have had an experience like this at one time or another. It’s very frustrating because you know you have something to say, but you can’t seem to get it out in a way that sounds good. In a situation like this, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that you’re just not a very good writer. Actually, the problem is not your ability as a writer, but the way you’re using your creativity.