When co-writing with other songwriters, what is the #1 thing NOT to do. Oppositely - and what is the #1 BEST practice you can suggest... Can't wait to hear your responses. I want to have honest and diverse answers. For example... I think co-writing is like dating... do you really know if you will be a co-write couple after one time? I think 2-4 sessions gives you a better sense of how the person writes. Best practice - have think skin... no one is the best writer in the whole world all the time with every song... there is always room for criticism (hopefully it will be constructive).
doug - I love your thoughts, very practical stuff that we basically should apply at all times! people would be surprised to find how sessions could go if we go in with a creative, humble and encouraging spirit
As one that encourages and fosters co-writing for a living there are some things I would suggest, a couple of them have been listed below.
I would always suggest to be prepared. But remember that in Nashville particularly, the "LESS finished" something is, the better. So having snippets, ideas, senarios, etc. help a lot.
Sitting down with a finished lyric or music and saying "write to that" rarely works. It forces creative people into a box.
Also I would always be flexible on anything. Being able to say "That works for me, or doesn't work for me is the best policy.
Getting to know someone first is the key to everything. Don't just jump into a song. Get a feel for them first, talk about who they are and who you are, what music you are interested in. What's going on in your life. That will eliminate a lot of problems down the road.
Most everything is common sense and common courtesy. Be open, honest and direct and you rarely have any problems.
Did that get your attention? The reason I say that is that when I get an idea (not often) I can usually pick up a guitar and have the song done in a few minutes (but since I don’t have any hits maybe my songs are not even close to done, who knows). Lately, I am trying to force myself not to write the middle eight and have somebody else do it, like Lennon/McCartney and some other Brits did. Now, I don’t consider it co writing but I have helped others out by rewriting what they had to make things like phrasing work better. Since it’s done at a different time/place, usually via email, it doesn’t require them to work with me in person so I don’t know if I’m crushing their spirit when they get my reply. I don’t think that’s the type of co writing you’re talking about, anyway.
My suggestion’s for the in the same room/time writing sessions are the usual be on time, be nice, don’t write with strangers…and then there’s one that I haven’t seen yet, whose song is this anyway? If it’s your song and you come to me for help, won’t you be upset if I then take it to somebody else; and it ends up with 6 people handling it; and now your idea has morphed into something else; but not quite different enough for you to reuse the original idea that you were trying to express in the first place.
OK so there will be plenty of first dates before you find a good writing partner ...
BTW “hey let’s get together and write” : )
1. My opinion is that it takes more than one time to find out if you are compatible with another writer. Many writers are wanting immediate magic to happen and most of the time it does not happen that way. I have had first time writing sessions with writers that have had major hits and the session was not a productive one but then we would get together again and have a great writing session.
2. Don't bring your boyfriend, girlfriend, mother, father or anyone else to a writing session and ask if they can "hang out" until you are done writing.
3. I know most writers want to write with only other writers that have had a lot of success. This does make sense to some degree but there are a bunch of writers out there with great ideas that have not had the opportunity to get their songs heard or cut.
4. Don't show up to a writing session and say that you forgot your pad, idea notebook, and even your instrument.
No kidding...I am amazed at the number of times writers come without their instrument! True, I have guitars and such around and maybe they just count on that, but still...it seems weird to me.
And I think it's also true about giving it some time. For me, it usually takes as many as five songs to get into a groove.
I have zero expectation that anything will come from a first session, besides getting to know each other better. Sometimes the music also comes that first visit, but rarely.
So my number one thing to do is to NOT burden yourself with expectations. The only way to write great music is to be in the moment with your co writer. Placing expectations on a session puts your sights way too far in the future and causes stress, which kills the moment - the only time in which a song can be born.
I guess if you have a really big house and the person is way on the other side, away from the writers, it would be ok but my personal feeling is that it puts a little pressure on one or all of the writers to maybe "hurry up" so that the person waiting isn't getting antsy.
Everyone does a writing session a little differently. I like "visiting" for a few minutes and then sitting down and letting the ideas flow from each writer. I understand what you are saying about the person wanting to write in front of you and not with you. I guess there are a million writing session stories that can be told but this is good. It let's us vent, and learn.