Writing songs – well begun is half done

The quote I actually had in mind was, “a task begun is half done”, but I was searching for it on the internet to make sure it was right and, “well begun is half done”, is all that kept coming up. Well lah-di-dah!

What I wanted to write about was the importance of making a start. Sitting down with a pen or pencil and actually getting something down on a bit of paper (or on a computer). Actually making a start and doing this often means that the rest of the process can often be pretty easy(ish).

For example, I once attended a songwriting class and the teacher told us to look around the room and write down the objects we saw as potential subjects or inspiration for songs. I’d read about this plenty of times before, but had I ever done it? No. I’ve no idea why not, but maybe it seemed obvious and I wanted to get on with the book I read it in and promised myself I would do it later. This time though, I saw a clock on the wall, was sad that the class was almost over, and came up with a killer title and refrain for a song. I quickly wrote it down.

Then what? Nothing for ages. I carried this line around in my head, singing it to myself, delighted with my brilliance. But where was the rest of the song to go with it?

Then one night I got some paper and a pen and sat down. Within twenty minutes verses and a bridge poured out and onto the page. Not brilliant verses and a bridge, I’ll admit, but I had something down on paper. A task begun is half done. I say half done because it’s the rewriting process that will turn this rough and ready song with awkward lyrics and amateur rhymes into something that may turn out to be pretty good.

Then what? Nothing for ages. Incredibly (this was quite a while ago now) I haven’t sat down again to work on the song and try to finish it off. I’ve no doubt that the reason the first draft of the song “poured out” so quickly is that my unconscious mind had been working on it without my knowledge. This time that probably won’t be the case because I can’t remember the lyrics that I wrote that night.

So here’s the plan. Dig out the lyrics for that song and finish it off. It really was a killer title and refrain, and the finished song should be great. Country charts look out! Sounds simple doesn’t it? This song isn’t alone – it has plenty of company from all the other first drafts that for some reason I never get around to working on to finish off. It’s now or never.

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