The Creative Songwriting Process – How to Write a Song in One Sitting
Based on the content of Episode 21, The Magic of Songwriting with Francesca de Valence
One of our listeners wrote in and asked Club founder Francesca de Valence to write a song on our podcast. And so she did. In fact, she decided that the very next song she would write would be the song that she would record and share.
We’ve condensed the 2 hour writing session into a 20 mins podcast excerpt where she plays the song in full at the end. You’ll also find a summary of the main songwriting process below in the accompanying blog.
We hope this episode is insightful and helpful for you in your creative process. And maybe it might be a little entertaining too!
What does your creative process look like?
Reflect on your creative process. Do you get an inspired idea and run with it but then walk away when the idea loses steam? What would it be like to write a song from beginning to end in one session?
If you’re thinking why that’s even important, we talk about the huge benefits of writing songs in one sitting in this resource.
And if you want to give it a go but not sure how to go about doing that, we’ve unpacked how Club founder Francesca de Valence, created her song “Houseboat” in these simple 10 steps.
The Creative Songwriting Process in 10 steps:
1. Set yourself up in a quiet space
You’ll probably feel more open and creative being in a quiet and private space to write your song, so go and find that space for yourself. Get prepared and have your equipment ready to go as well. We recommend a pen and paper, a recording device and your instrument.
2. Start with a prompt
Use the following theme and guideline to give yourself a starting place. We do this each week in The Club.
This was an actual theme given to members of The Club on 26 July, 2022.
Exercise: Remember how we drew houses when we were kids? Let’s give it a go. Draw a house and be specific and purposeful with everything that you draw.
Guideline: Feature concrete and specific language.
3. Brainstorm lyrics based on an exercise
Do the exercise in step 2 and from this draw on specific language to craft some lyrics. Jot down some initial ideas using your pen and paper without any attachment. See this as lyrical brainstorming.
4. Improvise some musical ideas
Either with your instrument or with your voice only, sound out some musical ideas in the space of this theme. Trust your initial ideas and go with them. See this as musical improvisation. Record all your ideas on your recording device.
5. Shape two contrasting melodies
From your musical improvisation, sculpt out and shape two contrasting melody ideas – one that you might use as a verse, and another as a chorus idea. Record those two ideas on your recording device.
6. Match your melody and lyrics
Using your lyrical brainstorming, find lyrics that match with the phrasing of your melody. Play back your ideas that you recorded to assist. Aim for concrete lyrics in your verses, and perhaps a more overarching message in the chorus.
7. Be clear and decisive
Make clear and decisive moves in the creation process. Don’t second guess yourself. Your instincts are more powerful than you probably give them credit for. And you can always edit later.
8. Remain playful
Stay playful as you write. You’re the only one in this space, there is no pressure. Have fun with yourself.
9. Ask questions
If you’re struggling with what the song is about, ask yourself questions. What does this line mean? What am I trying to say here? Asking questions is a brilliant way for creatives to not stay stuck, but to get curious about what else there is. It’s like having an abundance of ideas rather than scarcity.
10. Own any labels you’re giving to your song
If any judgment comes up for you, own the label. That means if you’re judging it as “cheesy” then go “cheesy” all the way. Or if you’re judging it as “awful”, then own it and go “awful” all the way. What this does is lightens the judgement energy which can put the brakes on writing big time. Owning the label allows you to keep going and finish the song. You never know, you might end up loving it. But you’ll not know that if you stop writing it because of the label you’re imposing.
Want to create a more effective creative songwriting process?
Do you want to hear these key points in action? Take a listen to the above audio to hear them being applied in the creative songwriting process.
And if this inspires you and you want to write songs with more ease, then this is totally something you can learn how to do. Check out how we can help you in our different songwriting programs here.
About Francesca de Valence:
Francesca de Valence is a multi-award-winning songwriter and educator with a heroic song catalogue of over 500 songs with cuts by much-loved Australian artists. Based in Brisbane, Francesca has been published by Songwriting Magazine UK and has facilitated workshops worldwide with APRA AMCOS, Irish Music Rights Organisation, and Folk Alliance International. She is also co-founder of the Whitsundays Songwriter Festival and hosts the inspiring podcast “The Magic of Songwriting”.
Song Credit: “Houseboat” – Written by Francesca de Valence. Performed live by Francesca de Valence at I Heart Songwriting Club Headquarters.
Episode Show Notes:
Get your creativity, confidence, and songwriting output flowing. Join The Club and receive the support and structure to write 10 songs in 10 weeks and get feedback from a private peer community. This is THE essential writing practice that has changed the careers and lives of 1000s of songwriters worldwide.
Just getting started on your songwriting journey and need more hands-on support? Establish a firm foundation and develop your musical and lyric skills with our Beginner Songwriting Courses. They are the perfect place to begin and cover everything you need to know to write your first songs. You’ll receive lessons from Francesca directly!
Don’t struggle to write your next album – write an album a year with ease! Watch our Free Songwriting Masterclass.
Want more for your songwriting but don’t know where to go from here? Take the I Heart Songwriting Club Quiz to discover your next steps and inspire your way to writing better songs.
Get songwriting insights from I Heart Songwriting Club:
Be inspired by Francesca on socials:
Podcast theme song: “Put One Foot In Front Of The Other One” music and lyrics by Francesca de Valence
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