The Creative Process, Part 1

The creative process is different for everyone who ever uses his/her imagination, with or without a partner or writing/production team.

Each time I’ve collaborated with another writer, or two, our song has evolved differently.

But it NEVER – EVER, EVER, comes out whole and perfect on the first try.

It’s a process.  When you change that process, you can change the result.

Writing alone is glorious and terrible for me.  I don’t have to deal with anybody’s eccentricities or ego.  I just have to answer to me.  Since I’m all by myself, even if I set a meeting in my calendar, in ink, how hard is it to break it, and suddenly need to do load after load of laundry?   

But that defeats the purpose, right?  We all need discipline for our creativity to work. 

I like to collaborate because when I do, there are two creative streams pouring in, not just one.  And when the song is finished, then we have double the marketing opportunities – writer 1’s network, and mine. 

When you write a new song, you’re not just writing it.  You’re also creating a network of opportunities for it.

That’s why I love writing with an artist who sings her/his own songs.  In the best of all possible worlds, we won’t have to pitch it anywhere.  My singer/partner will simply include it on the next album.

At the beginning of my career, while writing with so many talented and successful composers, my role was to write the lyrics.  I might suggest a tweak in the melody here and there, but lyrics were my empire. 

I should tell you at that point, I played guitar and couldn’t pick out individual notes, so any attempt at writing melodies was quite sad.  Andy Marsala, a very talented writer I met in New York during my jingle days, told me all my melodies sounded the same.  No wonder.  All I was playing was chord progressions in 4/4.

That’s when he convinced me to switch to a keyboard.  On it, the notes are all laid out in front of me.  I discovered I could write beautiful melodies.  And what a difference that has made in my life.

The more you bring to the table, the better.  So if you write on a guitar and it’s not working, try adding a keyboard. 

This doesn’t mean buying recording software.   It means purchasing a simple electronic, two-octave instrument, and taking a couple of lessons.

Your teacher will tell you: 

“This is middle C.  This is an octave.  This is a chord.  This is a note.  If you start with that note, all by itself, you can put any notes around to form a chord.  But if you just play chords, the notes of your melody have to squeeze between the notes in the chord.  You have a lot more creative control by choosing the notes first, writing your melody and THEN add the chords.”

Try it.  When you change the process, you can change the result. 

© 2019 Molly-Ann Leikin