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.