Change Your Time Zone To Finish Your Song

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Are you trying to finish your song, but you’re stuck?  Try experimenting with the element of time. Don’t let your use of time be happenstance. It’s a powerful tool if you use it wisely. Time can be used as a telescope, framing your idea through the lens of a character’s whole life (and beyond). Or it can be a microscope, framing your idea through the lens of just a few pivotal seconds in a character’s life.

I dealt with the time element on an idea I had called, “Love Is Tough.” My initial thought was a three-act play where each verse told part of the singer’s love story with the girl- some struggle they overcame, some fight, etc. And the chorus would say something like, “Love is tough, but our love is tough enough to handle it.”

Yeah, that works, but it didn’t really excite me. But one day I started working on it with Brent Anderson and Joel Shewmake. We put away the telescope and unpacked the microscope. Instead of looking at years, we started looking at just a few minutes. To me, that made all the difference.

We didn’t have to set up a whole new situation in each verse, so we were free to really dig into the emotion. Heck, we didn’t even have to talk about WHY they had a fight. That wasn’t the point. All that mattered was that even though love can be tough, their love is tougher. (The song, “Tough,” ended up being cut by Lonestar and is a Wal-Mart exclusive track on their album, “Party Heard Around The World.”)  Oh, and Brent Anderson just had is first #1 with Blake Shelton’s “Lonely Tonight.”  Congrats, Brent!

Another way to play with time is to experiment when WHEN the story happened. For example, your “leaving song” idea could be framed as…

     “When you left me” (at some unspecified time in the past)
     “Last night when you left me”
     “You’re leaving me right now”
     “One of these days, when you leave me”

Each one of those options will have a different energy to it. In general, there’s more power in the present. “You’re breaking my heart right now” is more powerful than “you broke my heart.” “You look so good tonight” is more powerful than “you looked so good last night.”

However, one size does not fit all. Take the time (pun intended) to find the best time zone for your song.  The one with the best energy just might give you the “umph” you need to finish your song!

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.

Finish 5

3 thoughts on “Change Your Time Zone To Finish Your Song”

  1. I always love reading your advice, and this one really hit home! I see now that the “time zone” concept is something that has tripped me up in past writing sessions, but at the time I didn’t understand what was holding me back. Awesome! Thanks again, Brent!

  2. Hi Brent, I’m wondering how to find your scheduling for writing lessons. I’d still like to take some writing lessons but as I stated in earlier emails I drive truck OTR. and run a pretty tite schedule, I can pick and chose my home time and take it anywhere such as Nashville, if I give 7-10 day notice to the company. I have some songs demoed already and would like for you to use them to show me where I need practice and what I need to improve on to get a cutable song. THANKS! Earl Keith. 681 Hwy 25 N. Guy, AR. 72061. 501-339-7082.

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