Are you trying to finish your song, but you’re having a hard time of it? Maybe you’re stuck because 1) your idea is still vague or fuzzy or 2) you’re too busy trying to write lines instead of trying to figure out the thought BEHIND the lines. Maybe you’re stuck with your title, and you’re not sure where to go from there. So now you start to ponder what those words mean or what that notion means.
I know that for myself, sitting and pondering quietly is not usually the most effective way to dig into an idea. Why is that? I think it’s because it’s easy to get distracted. Or maybe it’s easy to sit there and FEEL your notion without ever putting it into words. And we kinda need the words to happen at some point, don’t we?
Anyway, I think I work most quickly and effectively when I can bounce ideas off of something, whether it’s a cowriter or a blank page. And it’s the blank page I want to talk about right now. I call it the “1,000 Word Exercise.” I open up a new Word or Pages file and put the title at the top (if I have one). Then I start typing and I don’t stop until my wordcount at the bottom of the file tells me I’ve hit 1,000 words. (Okay, you can take a bathroom break or refill your coffee, but no flipping on the TV.)
I don’t give myself any hard and fast rules when it comes to this, other than hitting 1,000 words. I can repeat phrases multiple times. I can put down… whatever… as long as it’s concerning that title or notion. I’m not worried about writing lyrics or lines, though some rhyming lines will inevitably appear.
No, I’m just concerned with getting thoughts on paper. If a cool line pops in my head, that’s great. Maybe it goes in this song, maybe it doesn’t. I really don’t know yet because I don’t know what my song is about yet- or even if there’s enough there to write a song about in the first place. Either way, you’ve captured the line, so it’s there if you need it later.
The reason it’s 1,000 words is because 1,000 words is A LOT.
Having that much space to fill means you can’t just stop with glib, shallow first impressions. You have to dig deeper. And wider, actually. That space both allows and forces you to consider multiple angles for your idea. It may turn dark for a little while, then it may turn funny. Sure, you’ll have some cliche stuff in there. That’s fine. Just put it down and keep on writing.
Hopefully, by the end of the exercise, you’ll have discovered an angle or layer of meaning which feels real and compelling. Then you can go through your 1,000 words and highlight lines and thoughts that go with that angle. (I also suggest you highlight- in a different color- lines and thoughts which could be seeds of other songs.)
Have fun… and keep writing!
If you’d like more techniques to help you finish your songs, check out my ebook, Finish Your Song! 20 Ways To Overcome Creative Roadblocks. It’s in the Man vs. Row store. Click HERE or on the image below to find out more.