For those of you who have been following my blog, you know that I wrote several songs last fall and winter. I'm now trying those songs out at gigs and open mics; taking them for a test drive, so to speak. And tweaking them a little, lyrically and (especially) musically.
At the time, I made a conscious decision to experiment both musically and lyrically. That is, I consciously decided to try new things and not worry about whether the songs would be any good, whether anyone would like them; or even whether I would even ever perform or record them. The idea was to try new songwriting techniques. These songs would be "lab experiments".
A funny thing happened. These "experiments" turned out to be some of my best songs, according to several friends and fans. In fact, after posting the the song "Misfit" to my myspace demo site, I wrote that I would probably never record or perform it, because it was so unconventional. Several people go on me about that, asking why not? They thought it was one of my best songs.
Based on that experiment, I now posit the following hypotheses about songwriting:
1. The more you concern yourself with writing a "good" song, the less likely the song will be good. In fact, you probably will never even finish writing the song. The less you care how good the song will be, the more likely it will be good.
2. The more you worry about whether people will like the song you're writing, the less people will like it. On the contrary, the less you care whether anybody will like it, the more likely people will like it. That's because the song will be honest.
In summary: be playful and experimental, both musically and lyrically, have fun, be emotionally honest, and don't worry whether the song will be good or if anyone will like it. I don't know if this will work for other songwriters, but it worked for me.