The other week on Instagram I had a few requests to do a songwriting Q&A, and I got far more questions than I anticipated (so grateful)! I figured I would post them all here on my website, as well as answer some more questions I never got to. I love doing stuff like this so make sure you let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to see. :)
Top 5 songwriters?
This list is constantly changing, but right I’ll say Taylor Swift (shocker), Gracie Abrams, Joni Mitchell, Mac Miller, Phoebe Bridgers & Ella Fitzgerald. Yes, I’m aware that’s 6 hahaha.
How do you get through writer's block?
First I sit with myself and determine if it’s full-on writer's block or if i’m just stuck on a specific song/lyric. Because sometimes I won’t write a song for months but other times its just the particular song i’m working on. Overall, don’t force anything.I think writers block can be good in the sense that we need to take a step back and live life in order to write. For me, I try to exercise other creative parts of my brain- whether it’s journaling, drawing, editing, etc,. I like to make sure I’m still creating something even if it’s “small”.
How do I stop being a coward and actually release my music?
YOU’RE NOT A COWARD!! Releasing art is scary! Be gentle with yourself. I didn’t officially release anything until 2015 when I graduated high school because I was so scared. And the few things I did release, were on Soundcloud and I only sent them to a handful of people. If anyone from school found them I deleted them. Spoiler alert: The nerves never fully go away. Any time you’re sharing something sacred t’s going to be scary- but that’s when you know you’re doing it right. :)
How do you stop yourself from starting to hate something you wrote when you loved it at first?
I felt this SOOOO much during the EP process. Ask yourself: What don’t I like about it? Is it something I can fix? A lyric or melody? Or do I only hate it because I have listened to it so many times? (For me, that’s often the answer). Take a step back from it for a little, clear your mind. If you have to stop yourself from hating it, you don’t actually hate it! If you actually hated it you wouldn’t be fighting with yourself not to.
What are some tips to start songwriting? I have no clue where to start
Journal!! Sometimes the mindset of “I’m going to write a song” can be overwhelming, thinking in verses & chorus’ and rhymes. I’ve found that journaling and then referring back to it helps me. I’m not filtered when I journal, I’m not hiding anything. Then it’s kind of like a puzzle stringing the entries together into a song!
Tips for developing melodies?
I don’t know if this makes sense but I like.. Sing-talk when I write lyrics. I’ll read the lyric our loud with emotion so that I sing it in the way it makes me feel. I don’t know if that even makes sense hahaha. Honestly though, just fucking around on the guitar and piano is helpful- playing 4 chords on a loop and just humming random shit over it until something sticks.
How to get over perfectionism? I absolutely hate everything I write
Do you hate it because you genuinely don’t like it and think you can do better, or do you hate it because you don’t think it’s “good enough” when in comparison to people you admire? It’s normal to not love everything you write, but try not to judge yourself too much when you’re creating. Even if it won’t see the light of day, you still put your heart in it.
I want to be a singer but I don’t think I’m good enough and don’t know how to change my mindset
Fun fact- I do not think I’m a good singer, but I love singing and I can’t imagine anyone else singing the songs I write. That’s what keeps going, honestly. Just doing it because I love it and doing it for myself. You said it yourself, you want to! That’s truly all that matters. Do it for you. (Again, easier said than done) (But I believe in you)
Do you have anyone in your life who refuses to listen to your work? How do you deal with it?
No one has explicitly said this, but the people I write about or the people that ~think~ I’m writing about them probably don’t listen hahaha. If someone close to you refuses to listen to your art, I love you. Please never let it stop you from being your truest self.
Honestly can you just let us know your entire process?
It varies every time butt I write a lot in my notes app on my phone. I write down any thoughts, song ideas and lyric ideas, even words I like. So sometimes i’ll start with one of my notes, or sometimes I get a random melody in my head and i’ll record it into my phone. But there’s also a lot of times I just word vomit into my journal and then sit with the piano or guitar after and form it into a song. Writing bridges is probably my favorite thing ever.
How do you rhyme words? I’m serious
Rhymezone.com !!!!!! Not even kidding, I love it so much and you can also search near rhymes for words. 10/10 would recommend and people don’t talk about it enough.
What’s the best platform to release songs on?
Personally, all my recent releases have been through DistroKid. I used Tunecore up until I released “Grieving”. I do have a discount link for DistroKid (distrokid.com/vip/LIZB) but they recently got rid of a lot of their artist options, so I would also check out Level! I know a lot of people use that, now. I believe it’s cheaper too! I’m probably gonna try it out next. If you wanna try Level, dm me on Instagram and I can send you a promo link! Also, ALWAYS choose a platform that lets you keep 100% of your royalties.
Do you ever get nervous to share your songs? If so how do you get toast it, struggling with that right now?
I still get nervous every time and sometimes I get nervous when I’m writing. It’s weird, I have to check myself and be like “Liz, do not filter yourself when you’re creating”. I keep saying this, but do it for yourself and yourself only. And share it because you’re proud of it and makes you happy. I write because things get heavy on my chest and it feels hard to breathe, and it’s the same reason I started releasing them. It’s like lifting weights off myself regardless of who’s listening. I try to remind myself of that every time.
Were you ever embarrassed to show songs to family/admit you wanted to be a songwriter?
Embarrassed no but scared shitless, yes. My parents always knew I loved music, but when I started sharing things online I did not tell them. I didn’t even tell them when I released my first few songs on iTunes and I wouldn’t play the songs for them. I made them listen when I wasn’t around because I didn’t want to be in the room hahaha. It’s always been harder for me to be vulnerable with people I know than people I don’t. Like if my dad asked me to sing for him I would not but I could do it for a crowd. It’s weird hahaha.
Is it bad I don’t really write based on experience? I make up stories.
That’s not bad at all, I think that’s admirable and a trait I wish I possessed! I think it's incredible how people can create stories that way.
Songwriting is poetry for me, favorite poems? Favorite poets?
Lately, I’ve been reading every Ada Limón book I can get my hands on, I think she’s brilliant. Highly recommend her book “The Carrying”. I also adore Lang Leav.
Do you ever get tired after writing a song? I know I do and I wanna know if i’m weird
You’re 100% not weird, I get tired after writing a lot! Writing takes a lot of digging within yourself and that really can take a toll on you. This happened for me towards the end of the EP process, I was extremely burnt out.
Thanks for reading and for asking such thoughtful questions! I love you guys with my whole heart. Talk soon. :)