Finish Your First Draft in One Sitting

Here’s a question we hear frequently. “Why is it that I can write a verse or chorus that seems really good and often, when I hear it back 24 hours later, it seems awful.”

I’ll bet every songwriter has had (and maybe still has) this same experience.

One short answer is, if it loses its appeal to you, that’s a sign. Move on to a different idea. Of course, this may not be a foolproof way to weed out good ideas from bad.

Another valid answer is that your idea IS good and just needs further development. At first your song idea is all potential. At first you can only imagine how a good song could be created, starting with this idea. And if you stop there, then when you come back a day later, you may have forgotten all the imagined parts and are left with only the ‘seed’ idea.

So try to spend enough time in the first go-round, developing the song (or finishing it) as much as possible. Then when you let it sit for a day or so and come back to it, you’ll have more to work with and a better chance that your judgment (is this a good song?) will be correct.

The more you write, the easier it will be to finish a first draft in one sitting. It used to take me months to write a song. I’d write some, then put it on the back burner for weeks or months and then finally get back to it (to improve it some, then relegate it to the back burner again), and so on. Now I come close to finishing a song in one or two sessions and then polish it to perfection over several more sessions. The polished (editing/rewriting) can still take quite some time, for me.


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One Response to “Finish Your First Draft in One Sitting”

  1. WaywardNowHome Says:

    Great advice. I’ve always wondered why I would write down a few lines and think, “This song is amazing.” I put it aside so I can come back to it the next day and when I wake up, I feel like the song is possibly the worst I’ve written!

    I’ll have to try your advice and finish an entire draft in one sitting rather than just trying to formulate a “theme” for a song.

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