Writing tips

Set an absurd time limit

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 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. Try it out and make your songs shine bright like a… gold brick?

Don’t talk for the entire day. Just listen.

Take a temporary oath of silence. Your songwriting will thank you. A whole day might be a bit much. Besides, you HAVE to talk to lay down that earth-shattering vocal of pure genius. But It’s no secret that silence is good for you. Even an hour of silence is more than enough time to reset your brain. Whether you know it or not, talking is a huge and complex task for your brain to carry out. Putting it aside for a little while will put you in the right place to write. And during all that silent time all those deep memories and feelings will have a clear path to the top of your mind. Y’know, all those thoughts that make great songs. So take a break from the chatting and try silence for awhile. Let your brain do the talking and find all the inspiration you need.

Write an entire song using only LANDR Samples

Start with a free account and browse any of LANDR Samples‘ exclusive sample packs. There’s so many avenues for you to explore—whether you’re making electronic, pop, R&B, trap or even country and rock! LANDR’s got so many loops—just dig around, find a few sounds you like and arrange them into a totally new creation in your DAW. Best of all, LANDR Samples is the only online sample marketplace with Creator—the beatmaking tool that makes it insanely easy to mix and match samples. Creator will time stretch and pitch shift up to eight different loops into your chosen key and BPM, so you don’t need to worry about whatever key your sample is in. It’s the best way to instantly hear how different loops sound when played together—great for sketching out little ideas before committing to an arrangement. Once you’re happy with your Creator loop just download the loops and start arranging them in your DAW. You never know quite what you’ll find—sometimes inspiration can come from a completely unexpected sample that you never would have used had you never looked. Get started with LANDR’s free samples and make your first Creator beat!

Look out the window for a really long time

The small room that I make music in has a skylight in it. The view is quite limited—just a small blue square with the occasional cloud, bird or airplane. But I think I’ve learned more about my own process from that small blue square than any guide, walkthrough, or manual could ever teach me. It lets me think clearly. It doesn’t even need to be a window either. Just something silent to stare at. Like a tropical aquarium, or a nice piece of art. These days you have to actually rip yourself out of the hyper-fast distractions that are constantly there (computer, cellphone, etc.) to find some quite silent time.

Once you do you’ll get into a way better space to write some songs.

Do you think Brian Wilson composed ‘Good Vibrations’ while he was replying to an email, ordering an Uber, checking his plays on SoundCloud and tweeting about the weather at the same time? I don’t think so.

Play five radios at once

You might wanna do this one when no one else is home. Or at least keep the volume low. It’ll definitely cause your friends to ask if everything is ok. But it really works! Tom Waits famously uses this technique during his songwriting process. He turns a couple radios on and then listens for the interesting overlaps.

You’ll find interesting progressions and melodies. Think of it like ear sampling.

This type of absurd composition is a form of aleatory music—It’s music where certain parts of the composition are left to chance. It’s the perfect storm for song inspiration. If it worked for Tom Waits it’s definitely worth trying. So turn on all those radios, roll the dice and listen for the interesting overlaps.

See if Your Job Will Pick Up the Bill

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The Mozart effect

No, I’m not about to tell you to listen to Mozart and then do what he did. That would be cheating right? But there is another reason to listen to Mozart. Listening to Mozart has been studied and proven to have a positive effect on your focus. It affects your ‘spatial-temporal reasoning.’ Which is basically a fancy word for concentration. Starting your session with a bit of Mozart will put your brain into high-gear. Perfect for pumping out some quality songs. Copying a few of his phrases and melodies can’t hurt either… Just make sure you make ’em your own!

Plot out your story before you begin

Stories in the fantasy genre are often complex and epic — all the more reason to plot it out before. You don’t want to accidentally trip over all 99 of your storylines. And you don’t want to be that writer who gets to the end of the book and realizes they’ve forgotten to tie a knot in one part of the plot. Hello, darkness, my old friend. That's why Young says to get a general sense of your plot before you start writing. “You’ll know your world so much better if you know your story first,” she says. “Then, once your story is plotted out, you can use the plot structure as a skeleton to show where you want to build your world, scene by scene.” For more food for plotting thought, you can read up on narrative arcs here.

Develop your world through short stories

Did you know that JRR Tolkien wrote a gazillion short stories about Middle-Earth before ever starting The Hobbit? He needed somewhere to begin. That’s exactly what Jenny Bowman, an editor who worked on Robert Beatty’s Serafina and the Black Cloak, advises: a good way to build your world is to write short stories that feature some of your characters. “Do this with the intention of excluding [these stories] from your book,” she says. “This gives you freedom to create a new universe with no boundaries.” So if you can’t churn out the full-blown novel inside of you just yet, don’t sweat it. Dip your toe into the water through short stories, instead.

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