Cut your lyrics into a million pieces

Guess what? Diamonds by Rihanna was written by Sia in 14 minutes. She put the beat on and the lyrics just flowed. It has gone platinum 5 times in the US alone. Time is a hard scale to balance. Too much and you end up second-guessing everything. Too little and you get nothing done. The solution? Set a time limit. Even better, set a time limit that’s way shorter than what you normally write in. Setting slim boundaries will personalized gift help you focus on what matters, write more songs, and streamline your entire process. And the more you do it, the better you’ll get. When it comes to songwriting simple is always effective. But it’s hard to pull off. You have to be ruthless with your approach.

Just ask the Beatles. Their song ’Love Me Do’ has exactly 19 unique words in it. But it’s still one of the most iconic songs of all time. Simple is a skill that every songwriter should master. It keeps your songs relatable, engaging, and catchy. Who doesn’t like a good sing-along? Infinity exists. The only proof you need is a blank DAW. There are infinite VST plugins, infinite effects, and infinite processing.

But infinity isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes the best way to better your songwriting is to set a gear limit. Start with a strict list of what you’re gonna use. Limit your ideas to your gear list. Ideas will take shape much faster than having to constantly decide between a million options. It might sound weird but limitations can make you more creative. Because you have to work with what you’ve got and bend it to your sound. Here’s another interesting idea for writing more personal song lyrics—it’s called the layover technique.

Essentially, pretend you’ve been on a long trip to another country and you’ve found a moment to write a postcard letter to a loved one while on a layover in an airport. What would you say after being away for so long? It’s up to you to think of the narrative—maybe you miss your lover or you’re sad that your work takes you away from the things you love. Remember, this letter will be written on a small-sized postcard so you’ll have to be concise and to the point—which is true of many great lyrics. Author William S. Burroughs created the cut-up technique to help with his writing. Except he wasn’t writing songs. He was writing books.

But his concept is super effective for songwriting as well. It’s pretty simple. Just write out a bunch of words that are on your mind, cut them out, and rearrange them into ideas. It doesn’t even have to be words either. It can be chords, notes, melodies, pictures, or anything else that works for you. If there’s a piece of gear that you’re eyeing or a new studio toy you want, tell yourself that you have to write 5 songs before you even think about buying it.

This will give you something to work towards beyond the satisfaction of being finished with a song—which is a pretty great reward in itself, I’m not about to tell you to listen to Mozart and then do what he did.

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