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How To Start Creating Like a Song Writer: an Artist's Guide to Starting Your Creative Project

Updated on January 11, 2015
Bob Dylan knows a thing or too about starting the creative process.  The legend has written hundreds of classic songs.
Bob Dylan knows a thing or too about starting the creative process. The legend has written hundreds of classic songs. | Source

This piece is part 1 in a 5 part series about the creative process from an artist's perspective. For part 2, on finding inspiration, click here.

As an artist, you MUST create. But how does one dive head long into the creative process? Where does the long and tiresome journey from the moment that you have an idea to the minute you complete a piece of art begin? As an artist, I will share my thoughts on how to begin the creative journey, and share how you can develop your art and start creating like a song writer.

I like to call myself an artist, and next to writing prose and verse songwriting is the medium in which I feel most confident, skilled, and developed. As a songwriter, beginning the creative process is an easier and clearer jump than getting started can be in other disciplines. However, my approach on how to start creating like a song writer has wide applications to all artistic mediums, and can be easily adapted to any artistic pursuit. Below are my 3 easy steps to follow to start creating like a song writer. All of which I will examine in more detail, with the example of a (demo quality) EP of love songs that I recorded last year, in the guide that follows.

  1. Decide what you want to do.
  2. Decide what you want to say.
  3. Get your hands dirty! Get to work!

Decide What You Want to Do

This step has two baby steps involved, but I'm counting it as one anyhow, as all of the things you need to decide at the start about "what you want to do" are interconnected and easily answered in one place. What medium do you want to use? Say you want to make a video. What form of that medium are you going to tackle? Say you want to make an animated film. There you go: step one accomplished. It sounds simple because it is, but it is important to staying focused later in the creative process. If you don't decide clearly and definitely what you want to create, your artistic journey will be a challenging one.

Sunset Lullaby

In writing the song "Sunset Lullaby," which you can hear on your left, I approached this step head one. I knew I wanted to write a song: I was on a mission to self record an EP of love songs for my girlfriend for our anniversary. Baby step one, check and check. And I knew more specifically that I wanted to write a lullaby, as my girlfriend has trouble sleeping and I love the idea of singing her to slumber. Baby step two, conquered. By quickly deciding what I wanted to do with this piece, I could move on tot he next step in jumping into the creative process: deciding what I wanted to say with my artistic expression.

Decide What You Want To Say

Once you have focused in on what medium you want to work with, and decided what approach you are going to take to working with that medium by narrowing down what kind of work you want to produce, you need to take time to decide what you want to say. By trying to create without any broad statement or idea of what you want to say, you risk investing a lot of time into what'll turn out to be sub-par work: decide early and clearly what you want to say with your piece of art.

You, Pt. 2

When I wrote "You, Pt. 2," which you can hear on the right, I knew exactly what I wanted to talk about: my girlfriend. But deciding what you want to say goes beyond basic themes: you need to think about what kind of statement you want to make. With this song, I was hoping to convey as simple message, that my girlfriend is an especially great fit for me romantically. By thinking about what it is I wanted to say with this song, I was able to quickly jump into the work of taking some notes, writing a draft, and editing the piece before I finally finished it. By deciding what you want to say with a piece of artistic expression, you mitigate the possibility that your message will get lost in translation, and do yourself the favor of defining exactly what you want that message to be.

Get to Work!

You have decided what you want to make, and what you want to say with it. Now get to work! If this guide feels simple and direct, it is. Getting started on your creative journey isn't as hard as you are making it out to be. Jump right in to it.

Sunshine Lady, Springtime Baby

When I wrote the song "Sunshine Lady, Springtime Baby" I knew what I wanted to do and I jumped right into it: I sat down with my journal and wrote a draft, and worked until it was something I felt good about, and ended up with one of my favorite pop songs I have written. You can think about what you want to do all day, but if you don't get your hands dirty and get to it you are never going to get the creative process under way.

Getting started on your creative journey means getting your hands dirty, getting to work, and getting moving!  Put one foot in front of the other and WORK.
Getting started on your creative journey means getting your hands dirty, getting to work, and getting moving! Put one foot in front of the other and WORK.

Yes, it IS That Easy

Getting started in the creative process can be challenging; you know you want to create something, but it can be extremely intimidating to turn that initial inspiration into a piece of art. But waiting around and thinking about what you will create isn't the same as creating. To be an artist, you must do the dirty work of creation: you must get started, get on that path, jump in, and start creating!

Bob Dylan didn't write so many songs by sitting around and thinking about it, he got right to work!
Bob Dylan didn't write so many songs by sitting around and thinking about it, he got right to work! | Source

Bob Dylan has written hundreds of classic songs, and he didn't create so much art by sitting around and thinking about what he was going to create, he jumped in and did it. To start creating like a songwriter, remember my three easy steps to starting your creative process. Decide what you want to do, decide what you want to say, and then do it. Of course, this is just where the work of an artist STARTS, not where it ends. After deciding you are ready to create like a songwriter, you will need to find inspiration, take some notes and make some drafts, edit what you have created, and finally finish your creative process. There is a lot about the creative process that can be challenging, but getting started doesn't have to be. Jump in! Start creating art like a song writer today!

What I Record With

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