Writing Tips By Tom Colohue: Writing Outright. Part Two

TThis is a second part of Writing Tips By Tom Colohue: Writing Outright. Read the first part at this location.

Not everybody is particularly talented at writing music. While some people find it incredibly difficult others find it easier than anything else. Everybody has specific skills that are worth nurturing in order to gain as much from them as possible. You don’t have to want to be a writer, a poet or a musician. All that you need is a sense of drive with which you might work towards honing your current skills and developing whatever is available to you already.

I’m just laying out something of a list of points here. Using these, it’s up to you to do what you will with the present information. All of these come from almost fifteen years of writing experience myself. I started writing fifteen years ago, started with poetry five years ago and started writing music, which will be covered in later pieces, and lyrics about three years ago when I was gifted with my guitar. Whether you’ve never written a song before or you have written a platinum selling album and sixteen novels, I hope this helps.

Point Four: Take Your Time

Photo credit: chlorinelake on Tumblr

Photo credit: chlorinelake on Tumblr

If you write something down and it sounds good, then keep it. Come back a week later and your opinion on it might have changed, so let it change and grow with the time you’ve given it. Your influences may have changed and the character behind the piece might have grown and developed into something brand new. This will always add something to what you’re writing, as well as taking it away from how it originated. The less obvious the original influences become, the more unique the piece is in the end.

You will always be your own worst critic. Coming back to something after a little time is a lot like coming to something brand new that somebody else has written. If you were after comedy, you might find that the jokes are not funny anymore. The rhythm in your head may have changed and a new one might come forth for the poem or song that you’re writing. A new influence from another genre might have crept in, or your new perspective might present a brand new selection of words to follow.

All work evolves, you just have to give it time in which to do that. Don’t be afraid of change. If you end up happy with the results then there’s never any reason to worry about it.

Point Five: Repetition

Photo credit: negative-numbers.tumblr.com

Photo credit: negative-numbers.tumblr.com

Repetition is always a difficult one to gauge. Choral repetition is generally considered the best way to go, however a catchy line or verse can become much more powerful when repeated. Unfortunately, if the lyrics don’t have the power in them anyway or don’t really say anything that is of particular importance to the song then it comes out weak and pointless.

You have to choose your repeated words carefully. In repeating them, you are empowering them, so you have to ensure that they hold enough power in them to make it sensible. It has to not only fit the piece, but also to fit the perceptions of the person listening to it. Now, obviously, you don’t know what your reader is thinking, so you need to make sure that it has the right affect on you.

It’s handy having somebody else available to read over what you’ve done, particularly somebody evil, cruel and magnificently brutal. They’re the best and most honest critics.

Point Six: Keep A Thesaurus And A Rhyming Dictionary Handy

Photo credit: Jesper Waldersten

Photo credit: Jesper Waldersten

Often when writing a song you’ll come across a few problem lines. How you handle this will decide if the song survives or not. If you like to make songs which rhyme but can’t think of an appropriate rhyming word there are three steps to follow which should help you find one:

  • Confirm what you’re trying to say.
  • Use a Thesaurus on the word you’re trying to rhyme with and consider changing it.
  • Use a rhyming dictionary to find a rhyming word that fits the song.

The expansion of your vocabulary is the easiest way to defeat this potential issue as and when it arises. It will come up a lot when you just want to make sure that things fit nicely, but they refuse to do so. Spend some time considering it and working out what your options are, then choose whatever one seems most suitable to you. If all else fails, it’s more than likely that you can just change the line itself. You could come back later and have a completely different line in mind.

Point Seven: Inspire Yourself

Photo credit: arriana.tumblr.com

Photo credit: arriana.tumblr.com

Inspiration can be hard to find, but it’s not as elusive as people think. Inspiration is simply something that makes you think, so you can see that there‘s a lot of it in the world. Even when you have writer’s block, or you’re too angry to focus, your mind is still constantly active and thinking about whatever random thing that you’ve been inspired to think about. Obviously inspiration is unique to different people as people are unique themselves, but here follows a list of ways I try to think when I’m writing a song:

  • Think of a choice you made in life, what would happen if you chose the other one.
  • Make a random thought rhyme.
  • What were your feelings when you first discovered… (e.g. sex, drugs, rock n’ roll)
  • Read a book. Imagine you are your favourite character.
  • What would an ex have to say for you to let them come back.

So there you have it. Just a couple of suggestions which will hopefully help any songwriters out there. I always enjoy reading songs so the more there are the better for me. All of these points are things that I have been doing for years, and they have looked after me in their own unique way throughout my career as a writer. If you’re the sort of person who writes, or wants to write, I hope that something here will have proven beneficial for you.

Thanks for your time.

Tom Colohue is a fiction writer and music instructor from Blackpool, England. Though his main works are in the realms of fantasy, he also writes modern fiction for multiple websites, as well as theoretical and practical music lessons for magazines.