Write Small Moments, Not Big Themes

Write Small Moments, Not Big Themes

A common pitfall of many songwriters is to try and tackle grand themes from the start. In this blog post, we’ll discuss what that means, how to avoid it and some exercises to help you practice avoiding this mistake.

This blog post aims to summarise the first part of our video ‘New to Songwriting? Start here (3 tips)’’. Click here to watch the video for more details, explanations and examples.

What Does this Mean?

Let’s first start by tackling what it means when we say “Write small moments, not big themes”.

It’s common for beginner songwriters to feel compelled to write about huge themes like homelessness, climate change, heartbreak, or love. However, approaching songwriting in this way can be overwhelming and put excessive pressure on the song. Often, attempting to fit too much into a song results in a lack of focus or a generic and unrelatable song.

To avoid these pitfalls, it’s crucial to focus on writing about moments or experiences from your own life. By honing in on the details of your experiences, emotions, and perspectives, you then tap into universal themes that are relatable to others.

Shift Your Perspective

John Mayer eloquently describes this in an interview of his that I love, as trying not to fit a universe into a glass of water, but instead writing about the glass of water itself. By this, he means to emphasize the importance of finding inspiration within the confines of small moments, rather than attempting to capture grand concepts.

When you focus on the small moments, you discover that the universe resides within them, as well as unlock a treasure trove of relatable and authentic material. 

Paul Simon echoes this sentiment, emphasizing that themes naturally emerge from the specifics of our own lives. When you pay attention to these moments, they can help you find emotional truths that resonate deeply with others.

Examples of Practical Exercises

Practical exercises such as “Homework for Life” and “Sense Writing” can help you uncover the details in your life and incorporate them into your songwriting. They’ve been explained briefly below:

You can find out more about sense writing and other exercises in the free PDF ebook, “The 5 Best Songwriting Exercises for Writing Great Lyrics.” Click the image below to download:

  1. Homework for Life

This exercise involves spending a few minutes each day noting something that made that day unique or different from others. By maintaining a record of these moments, you begin to recognize patterns and themes that emerge from your daily experiences.

These insights can serve as valuable songwriting material, allowing you to craft songs that are relatable and emotionally resonant.

  1. Sense Writing

Another powerful exercise is ”Sense Writing”. This technique prompts you to engage all your senses to vividly describe specific moments, within a specific amount of time. As a result, it enables you to communicate emotional truths by helping you tap into your sensory experiences. 

Through immersing yourself in the sights, sounds, tastes, textures, and smells associated with these moments, you create a rich tapestry of details that breathe life into your songs.

Conclusion: Write Small Moments, Not Big Themes

Songwriting is a continual journey of self-discovery and growth. By focusing on small moments rather than big themes, you can uncover relatable themes within your experiences that you can use in your songs. This way, you’ll be able to create songs that are truly yours.

This is only the first of three tips that we have for beginner songwriters. Check out the full article that outlines all 3 tips, or check out the video now.

Level up your songwriting with five radically practical exercises used by professional songwriters around the world.

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