Time: The Ultimate Underrated Songwriting Tool

How do you start writing a new song? For some, it all starts with the melody. I know guys who will flesh out entire tracks as instrumentals before ever approaching the lyrics.

For others, the song starts with the words. Without words, how do you know what emotion or vibe should go into the music?

Then there’s the third group of writers who either do it all at once, or bounce back an forth in their search for songwriting success.

All three types of songwriters share one common songwriting element that often goes overlooked in the process: time.

Time – Part 1

Time can have a huge influence on mood and creativity. Harnessing the power it has over you can really optimize your writing sessions, and nurtures your best work.

For example, just like there are “morning people” and “night owls”, there are songwriters that fall into each bucket as well.

If you find your best writing typically comes alongside your morning cup of coffee, try to work a writing session into your AM more frequently. I know this can be difficult depending on your schedule, but there are options for everyone, even when you’re on the road.

Inversely, if the best ideas come about late at night while everyone else is sleeping, try to focus in on that time frame on a regular basis. If you’re worried about being too loud for the rest of your household, invest in some good headphones and learn how amp sims can improve your writing.

Songwriting should become so much of a habit in your daily routine that it becomes second nature. By writing around the same time every day, you can retrain yourself so that your mind will anticipate the writing sessions. That anticipation can give you an upper hand by allowing you to dive right into writing without the traditional mental adjustments other writers need to make to get in the zone.

Time – Part 2

The lesser utilize version of time used in the songwriting process comes down to your writing environment as much as it does the effort you’re putting into it.

Have you considered adding time-based effects to your songwriter’s toolbox?

Using reverb and delay creatively can be just as inspiring as a good story or melody. With these effects, simple rhythmic concepts and basic melodies can grow and develop into something completely new. Just check out how Fluff grows a basic ¼ note guitar part into a wide, ambient layer using our SOAR Tape Delay:

Time-based effects can add width and depth to your songs – breaking you out of the slump of one-dimensional writing.

It’s a freedom very few other writers have the benefit of playing with. Can you imagine an author writing three-dimensionally?

Songwriters writing at a computer have the benefit of endless plugin options to create with, but hope isn’t lost for analog songwriters. For those preferring to use pen and paper, or even just winging it can use delay pedals to play around with time-based ideas quickly and easily.

Then, when it’s time to commit that delay-drenched masterpiece, you can hop into the digital side, dial in those settings, and capture it immediately.

Writing With Time Already?

If you’ve got a time-based approach to writing already (such as the dotted 1/8th note trick), come share it with us on the Joey Sturgis Tones Forum.