Another year is gone, and what better time than New Years to take a look back and critique your creative output. By taking a step back and looking at your overall work from 2011, you can identify areas of strengths and weaknesses in your songwriting that can be approved upon in 2012.
The idea here is to not just look at what you've done but to use these observations, both good and bad, to set yourself new, realistic goals for the new year.
The following are 4 questions for you to ask yourself so that you can critique your work and plan for an even more productive new year:
1. How often did you produce a new song?
This is the most basic and obvious question as a songwriter. If you were not as prolific as you would have liked, take a look at the frequency that you were releasing new (finished) songs, and try to break the time between each release in half. In other words, if you released one song a month, try to release one song every two weeks. Don't try to over do it as you will just burn yourself out and fail to keep up with your song schedule.
2. Did you push the boundaries of your abilities with every new song?
If you didn't continually push yourself over the last year, then you weren't growing as a songwriter. Now, not every song needs to be groundbreaking if that's not what you were striving for. However take a look at your released works over the last year, if you don't notice a fine tuning of your skills as a songwriting throughout then you're not pushing yourself hard enough. A big part of learning and growth is taking risks and refining ideas in order to make them better - if all of your songs felt 'comfortable' then you probably weren't learning. A great goal for 2012 is to expand your comfort zone when working with things like melodies, chord progressions, harmonies, lyrics, etc.
3. Are the concepts in your songs fully realized?
One of the biggest obstacles that any songwriter has to overcome is not just coming up with fresh song ideas, but being able to turn those concepts into fully realized songs without losing sight of the original idea. Many times songs will start out with a concept but through the songwriting process becomes too abstract and/ or fails to convey the emotion that was originally intended. Or maybe your lyrics and music just don't reflect each other as they should have. Take a look at your songs from 2011 and see how well you were able to achieve this.
If there is room for improvement, set yourself an important goal; identify where in your songwriting process it is that your concepts are becoming lost. This will help you correct the inefficiencies in your process, making your songs in 2012 much more effective.
4. Are your songs memorable?
As the writer of the songs you are critiquing, this is often the most difficult question to answer. However, it is also one of the most important questions to ask and is one that you need to try to be as brutally honest with yourself as possible when answering, as it could have a hugely beneficial effect on your songwriting for the next year.
When you listen back at your songs from 2011, are your songs actually as memorable as you thought they would be when you wrote them? Whether it is the melody, the hook in the chorus, the instrumentation, the intro, the outro, the bridge, etc. does it all culminate into a memorable work?
There is a lot that goes into a song and each piece can be approved upon to make the overall song more memorable. A great goal for 2012 is to identify where your songs are lacking in the 'memorable' department, so that you can make them stronger in the new year.
What else would you critique and How?
In what other ways would you critique your songwriting from the past year in order to make 2012 a better songwriting year? Leave your suggestions and ideas in the form of a comment below.