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Organize creatively? - Tools for more productivity in songwriting

I DON'T KNOW HOW YOU ARE DOING

Maybe you have had experiences similar to mine. I've been grappling with the subject of creativity and effectiveness for many years. Maybe you know that too? 

There are of course a lot of approaches and premises for songwriting:

  1. Order song or your own idea?
  2. Who do you want to reach? Rewriting?
  3. How high is the claim?
  4. Who is the addressee?
  5. Are you trying to "get on the radio" or are you writing about a personal feeling?
  6. Are you writing for an entire album or a single song?

Even if it is difficult to divide something as free as a song into categories, there are clear qualitative differences.

Example: Of course, it is much easier for me to set a textbook song to music in which a team of authors gives me a text than to write my own song that should work as a “single”. The latter requires a lot of reflection, a lot of rewriting, thinking again, adjusting ... In my experience you don't write a song like this in “30 minutes”, but if that is the case, then the idea is either as brilliant as it is simple and just works, or it was pure luck. Here, too, we have to be aware of the quality of the content. It is certainly easier to write a “helicopter-ballermann” song than a german songwriter song on the subject of love or relationship that should stand out from the crowd. Lyrically, we come into spheres that require an extremely complex way of thinking, at least for our claim.


PROBLEMS I EXPECTED

  • The creative explosion

What used to be expressed in the fact that I wanted to deal with far too many topics in one song, expresses itself differently today. You think about a topic, move from stick to stick and realize that you actually have enough “basic ideas” for five songs in your head. What now?

  • Don't lose focus

Another big problem is that you simply stop pursuing ideas if you don't have a time window. In my case, it was often expressed in such a way that, due to productions or other to-do's, I always thought that I had to take care of the creative things between the door and the hinge or in the shower ... Can that be changed? How can you change that?

  • Ideas "die" because they don't have a time frame

I think that approaches, projects or ideas “die” is a general problem in my industry. This of course also happens with the creative construction sites that are subordinate to everyday work. What does not have an appointment does not progress. Of course, ideas come as they want ... And we have to seize and work on them at the moment. What I'm talking about here is more of the re-writing, i.e. the “hard work” part in which the ideas are sharpened.

  • Can you be effective and creative?

I think so. For years it felt like there was no stopping the flow of creative ideas, let alone sorting them out somehow. For me personally, at some point I realized that focusing is crucial in creative work. If we are constantly distracted by other things around us, we lose focus. But that's not what I'm talking about here. Rather, I think it helped a lot to sort my ideas into a few effective steps. And to free up capacities by structuring them, getting them out of your head and storing them first.


APPROACHES

A few years ago I started to grapple with the meaning of my work. After a few books, lectures and methods, it was only once that I realized the general direction in which I wanted to work. I'll go back to a method later that helped me tremendously.

This resulted in a new routine: I use a project management tool every day, also for creative work.

I know you can always argue from the other side here: if something that comes from the heart like music or the writing of songs is steered in such a way, how can it still work?

I found my answer: structure and focus have resulted in tripling my creative output. I'm happier with the result, with the effectiveness, but also with the quality!

And that is particularly important to me at this point: the capacities that are free in my head have released incredible energy for me to improve and sharpen my ideas. I firmly believe that the quality of creative output has gotten better! And that has nothing to do with the fact that I do it less heartily ...

In the long run, it means that I can implement a lot of matters of the heart, projects and ideas with my teams. And that's also due to the fact that I know exactly where I want to go through the structure of my creative ideas.


6 TOOLS FOR YOU

I will try to break down this complex topic into a few steps and routines that are important to me. I would like to give you a few tools here that may also help you ...

1. Time (calendar)

Calendar? I could have figured it out myself! Yes, I know ... It's less about keeping a calendar than about giving space to ideas. Having a fixed schedule for rewriting helped me a lot. If you find it difficult to establish new routines, start with a small amount of time and be sure to stick to it. And if you only write one line in an hour. It's about commitment, including towards yourself.

2. Google Docs (text)

In this tool I share my first song ideas with people who I am sure they understand or who will come up with the right, constructive criticism. This helps me to avoid mistakes even at an early stage. Google Docs is an absolute must for me. Whether you are at a distance, sitting in a room and working on a text at the same time, using several devices, or projecting text ideas onto the large screen in the studio ... It just helps.

If someone thinks with you, you both see the progress and every change and do not have to constantly interrupt each other in thinking, but can note every step.

A little tip: add Google Drive directly, create a folder structure for different projects!

3. Voice memos (holding ideas)

I record the first ideas with voice memos.

Whether phonetic nonsense, a melody, a chord structure, you can record the approach directly. The only thing that matters is where you put it, and we'll get to that in a moment ...

4. iPad Pro with iRig Keyboard (first drafts)

When it comes to the first demo drafts, I use an iPad Pro. Garage Band has the advantage that it can be exported and I can then continue working in Logic Pro in the studio. iRig Keys is awesome: You have a small keyboard keyboard, but at the same time you also have an audio interface into which you can plug a guitar or a microphone ... What more could you want? This is a portable studio. Ideal for songwriters.

5. MeisterTask (plan projects, due dates, schedule time)

So, now you have a new song and you have snippets of ideas lying around everywhere ... And here comes the great advantage of a project management tool: we use MeisterTask! What that brought about communicative, effectiveness and calm in our everyday life cannot be quantified. But I don't want to go into that in such detail at this point, that would go beyond the scope.

MeisterTask has two huge advantages:

You create a so-called map for your song in a project. This card then contains every Google Doc, every voice memo, every photo of handwritten texts, every demo status, with us even up to every mix status. With every project, we can understand how we worked and how something has changed right down to the first idea. And every team member. Apart from the fact that it is sometimes just wonderful to rummage through, you always have everything in one place and everyone is on one stand! #nowhatsappgroup ;-)

The second advantage is that the communication to this song explicitly takes place within this so-called card. That means you don't send voice memos via iMessage, or no song texts via WhatsApp ... That would cause even more confusion in your head! No, everything is on the menu anyway. Any team member involved can comment on individual steps on each individual song. And that makes more space in your head again.

And space in the head is exactly that thing: in my opinion, this state leads to effective, creative work! If you are interested, then the video course from Markus on MeisterTask is just right for you!

6. "Mach dein Ding"

Now there are many levels of creative work. What is your requirement? Are you just writing a song? Are you writing for your own project to release a CD? Do you write for a band long term?

The tools mentioned above can help with all of these requirements. But there is still a small stone in the mosaic: namely, knowing where you want to go! And here we are again at focus!

“Mach Dein Ding” is a method by Lars Bobach that I have been using for a few years through Markus. By and large, it's about asking questions about the big goals. To keep an eye on these and to reflect on where you are in regular reviews. This is not only motivating, but also brings us back focus.

I can only urgently recommend every creative person who is active in many projects to deal with it!


RESULT

Structure and tools clear your head. Knowing where you want to go helps us not to lose focus. I don't need any project management to write a song for once ... That's clear! But if I have to ensure, on a professional level, in multiple projects that my creativity - my greatest asset - also “delivers”, then you should develop a system for yourself. Otherwise there is a risk of getting bogged down and just running after and “putting out the fire”. That may not bother some - but it does not lead me any further on the way to the great goal.

Protect your mind. It will thank you! :-)

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