One of the hard parts about being a solo artist is all the different roles you have to fill. Instead of just being the guitar player or vocalist, you’re covering all the instruments, engineering, producing and promoting the whole thing. It can get overwhelming pretty fast. I find that when it comes to songwriting, I have to put limits on myself in order to keep from getting overwhelmed with the endless possibilities of a song. Here are a few examples of things I do limit myself.
- Pretend you’ve got a certain number of clones to form a band. Each one of you gets to play a certain instrument. Decide before you dive into the song how many players or instruments will be in the song. This will keep you from cluttering up the song with too many instruments or parts.
- Limit the number of tracks you allow yourself to use in your DAW. Again, this forces you to think more carefully about the parts that you do add.
- Take away everything but your main instrument. Focus on writing a song entirely on that instrument that stays interesting. This will keep you from depending on gimmicks or mixing/editing tricks to keep the song interesting. You’ll have to focus on the basics (chord progression, melody, etc). Once that’s done you can go back and add more of the fun stuff.
- Make an instrument you’re not familiar with the centerpiece of a song. Sometimes being forced to figure out something new will break you out of ruts and surprise you with something interesting.
- Limit your time. Say you’re going to have a song done by the end of the day, or tell a friend that you’ll have a new song to show them by the end of the week.
These are all things that have worked great for me in the past.
Question: what are some limits you’ve put on yourself that kept you from getting overwhelmed with a song?