I spent the afternoon at a workshop called WritersConnect put on by Songwriters Association of Canada, as part of Culture Days (an arts and culture event series across Canada). The session was supposed to focus on mentorship and collaboration in songwriting—“a professional works with two emerging writers on new and current material with help from the audience”—but in the end, it was a two-hour discussion on co-writing and tri-writing (I learned a new word today), and the panelists gave us a tonne of useful, practical tips for songwriting. [One of the panelists was Ron Irving, a veteran Canadian singer/songwriter and a connected musician in Nashville (the epicentre of country music).]
My favorite part was hearing their sources for song ideas. Being more lyrically (not musically) inclined, I write lyrics first and only when I need to release my feelings about a particular experience. And then I write the music. Most musicians will write a melody or a hook on their instrument first and then write the lyrics around that musical element. As a creative writer, I have always found this odd and backwards. But maybe, after I finish all the songs in progress, I’ll try it their way.