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  • Writer's pictureKenny Lamb

Rewrite Fatigue.





One of the most common mistakes I see early in a songwriter’s career is not fully embracing the re-writing process. Sooner or later, songwriters must evolve, understanding that song ideas most often don’t get written to their full potential. By changing the way we think about it, rewriting becomes just a necessary extension of the writing process.

 

Mindset is a powerful thing. Our perspectives on songwriting, and the approaches we take, really do define our works. I see too many “3 hour write” mentalities in the early phases of a songwriter’s journey. Too many darlings in a lyric or melody that could have been better, because the song was calling for it. Re-write fatigue cannot stand in the way of writing a hit.

So what is the key to staying out of this trap as we strive for success in the competitive world of songwriting? Let’s look at some of the root causes of letting go of a song too soon in the writing process.

 

Humility.

 

This is a tried-and-true root cause of re-write avoidance. We need good levels of humility to avoid convincing ourselves a song is done, when a more honest evaluation would have shown us it could improve. Confidence is a good quality, but it is crucial that we remain coach-able, and humble to the fact that the bar is very high in writing songs. Hits are rare. If we want to write our best songs, we should hold our songs up to that standard. This means fearlessly evaluating our lyrics and melody. Is it a little stock here, or a little cliché there? Does the melody move you? Is it memorable? Is it fresh?

 

Setting time expectations on finishing.

 

It’s done when it’s done. There will never be a time that a song should be written in, except the time it takes. If I set out to write a book, would I allow myself 6 months to finish it? What if more ideas came along during the process that required more time? What if it just wasn’t feeling done? When I am producing a record, I don’t stop until I have the take, the great performance, the best mix. Fatigue is the enemy of potential. We never know what could have been had we just pushed a little further, focused a little harder, stayed inspired a little longer.

 

Bad co-write chemistry.

 

It just takes one wheel in a co-write to take things off course. Even if you are doing all the right things when it comes to songwriting and re-writing, if your co-writer isn’t on board with pushing, refining, and taking a song idea to its full potential, then you are in a situation that most often falls short. Great writers are a tough write. This doesn’t mean there is not good vibes in the process. It means there is zero settling for just “good”. It will be about finding great.

 

Taking things personally.

 

Sometimes songs can be very personal things. They may come from experiences that are deeply our own. But once we begin to write the song, there may be moments in the process that call for us to listen to what the song wants, and not hold on too tight to what we think it needs. If we edit in ways that retain the authentic nature of personal lyrics, but also bring in the real boss – the song itself – we are less likely to leave a lyric that could have been better. If a co-writer, or an industry pro, suggests something could be better, we must avoid taking it personally. Feedback is about the song, not the songwriter.

 

Songwriting, and recording music, should be a passionate experience that comes from how we feel. This is our foundation, and the deep well we tap to find the music in us. But there is an art, and a craft, to music. The art flows freely, making the broad strokes. The craft is our detail work, our willingness to scrutinize and evaluate honestly. When we merge the art and craft with the balance needed, we find that the music we make becomes fuller, more finished.

 

Songwriters with good fundamentals and mindsets, like professional athletes, will see their game improve over time. The rewriting process, and our willingness to refine our ideas, will be a fundamental part of success as a songwriter. So, if it’s not done, keep cooking. If something tells you it could be better, listen. A song will let you know...if you want to hear it.

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