Dear songwriter (are you done waiting?)
In her latest letter, regular columnist Francesca de Valence encourages you to get writing, every day, and keep on writing
I Heart Songwriting Club is a global online community for songwriters and artists with a focus on collaboration, support and personal development. Founded by Brisbane-based singer-songwriter Francesca de Valence, the club has generated over 6000 songs for songwriters from over 12 countries.
With an International Songwriter of the Year Award (Los Angeles Music Awards) and an Australian Songwriting Award to her name, de Valence is well-placed to assist other artists with their own work. Here, in her latest column for us, she addresses those of us who just can’t finish a song…
are you done waiting?
If you had to count up how many hours and how much money that you’ve spent going to songwriting workshops, buying the latest books, reading articles, going to creative camps – how much time and money do you think you’ve spent on becoming a better songwriter?
And imagine if you were able to take that time and money and put it into actually writing songs. How much better would your songwriting be?
Now stay with me a minute.
From working with hundreds and hundreds of songwriters, here’s what I know for a fact: you’re all gathering and consuming information from all the ends of the earth so you can finally start writing those songs that you know you’re capable of writing.
But whilst you wait and gather and process all this information you are wasting precious time. Time that you could be writing songs every week – practising your craft, honing your songwriting muscles and writing a lot of finished songs; 10 songs in the next 10 weeks.
Waiting and gathering knowledge so that you know how to write songs is costing you your career. It is costing you your dreams of being a songwriter. It breaks my heart that songwriters are struggling this way, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
What if this could change really fast, as fast as six weeks? Just imagine, six weeks from now you’re writing and finishing songs – songs that are going to build and shape your songwriting career. Sounds good? Sounds amazing!
I know this because I was once where you are now. I had dreams, dreams of writing an album. But I could never finish a song. I bought the books and went to the workshops, but I had so many lyric ideas that never really went anywhere. I bought the software and did the training, but I had so many chord progressions and hooky chorus ideas that never found a home. I’d take another lesson, thinking, “Surely this will help me write a song,” then I’d sit at my piano and work a song idea. And after 15 minutes, I’d hit a wall and walk away. Too hard.
And do you know why? I was afraid. I had no confidence in myself at all. Have you ever felt like that? And I used to be able to hide it so well. You see, even though I was a proficient, professional musician I just couldn’t finish any of the songs I started to write.
I remember when I bought a guitar thinking, “Surely playing a new instrument, a fresh perspective, will help me write better songs.” But I couldn’t play it. So, of course, it couldn’t help me. Looking back, I now know why. I simply hadn’t learned to write and finish songs. Sounds simple but stay with me here…
One day I was listening to a young songwriter talk about struggling to write songs. That every idea she had was not good enough so she couldn’t actually finish a song – and I remember thinking, “That’s exactly like me, that’s how I feel.”
What if I could help her finish songs then surely I could help myself finish songs? What if I made a plan to write one song every single week? What if I made a plan to spend just one hour a week and challenged myself to finish the song in that time? No matter what!
Why an hour? Because I knew I could smash out a crappy song in an hour and I knew that any song that I could finish would be better than the pain of unfinished ideas or even no songs. And it was. And I did it.
I travel the world, writing songs. Wouldn’t you love to do that too? For the last 257 weeks, I have been committed to writing one song in just one hour. So that means I have written 257 songs in 257 hours. And the best part is: you can do this too. If you want to.
I’ve gained a truckload of confidence around my songwriting and it has changed my life. From those 257 finished songs, at least 200 of them are simply practice for practice sake; merely exercises. But 50 of them are something else. Some I have recorded, others I have performed, or I have ear-marked for other projects on the go. Those 50 songs are shaping my career and changing my life.
How would it feel to have 50 songs that you wrote that you love and are proud of? And how would it feel to know that you didn’t have to stop there, that you could just keep writing and writing and finishing? And that would open up to way more opportunities for your career?
If that’s you and you’re ready to have that for you, then this is about you getting on that path now to writing and finishing a lot of songs. Do you want to know how to do this?
Put down the books and start creating. Set a time limit, write a song and finish it.
You’re probably going to struggle to do this, but do it, because if you do that this week you’ll have one finished song in one week. And if you do that for six weeks, you’ll have 6 finished songs in six weeks, 10 songs in 10 weeks, 50 songs in 50 weeks.
But today you need you to commit to starting this journey. This is really about commitment and consistency to writing. When I started committing to my journey of writing songs every week that was the start of what is now I Heart Songwriting Club – I created it for me and I created it for songwriters just like you.
That is the result of my commitment to writing. The result of your commitment to writing is still a mystery waiting for you to discover. But there will be something magical that happens as a result of you doing this.
One thing I do know, one thing that is not a mystery, is that when you write songs every single week, you will be developing your songwriting skills and craft with each finished song and you be gathering finished songs that will shape your career.
Wouldn’t you rather write a finished song rather than read yet another songwriting book or take another songwriting workshop? And wouldn’t it be amazing for you to have 10 new finished songs in 10 week’s time?
If you’ve been waiting to get confident before you start writing, I want to tell you this isn’t going to happen. You need to take the first step and be committed and consistent, and the confidence comes as a result of that. Isn’t it time to start living the life you want to live? A life that actually includes writing songs?
You don’t have to wait for another degree or qualification before you write songs. Trust me. The waiting is over because if you start now and write one song every week in just an hour, you’re going to have 52 finished songs one year from now. Think about that for a minute. I’m not saying this is going to be easy, but it is simple and if you do the work, there is no reason you can’t get these results.
Are you done waiting? Let’s get writing!
Francesca is offering our readers 75% off I Heart Songwriting Club membership – offering her guidance and support to help you write your next 10 songs in the next 10 weeks. Join I Heart Songwriting Club for only Aus$55/£30 (value Aus$197) at iheartsongwritingclub.com