Start your co-write by coming up with a common vision. What does the track make you think of? What is a subject that is important/meaningful/fun for you both? Then, play around with melodies. Hum, improvise on simple syllables, do whatever you need in order to start getting the feel of your melody figured out. Doing this in front of someone else may seem embarrassing or silly at first. Remember that you’re in this together, and the success of your song relies on both you and your partner feeling confident enough to throw out suggestions, no matter how ridiculous. This is a great step to get that ball rollin’!
As you begin to work on the lyrics together, keep monitoring the arc of the song. Is it staying cohesive? Are you both contributing? Does the other person seem shy? Feel free to coax them, and don’t be afraid to speak up yourself!
You don’t need to have to have a completed thought to speak up. Even if you just have a bit of lyric or an interesting image in mind, the other person may jump off of what you offered to complete the phrase or come up with a clever rhyme. You never know what half-formed ideas will inspire your partner.
When you start to lose steam while writing a song, the great thing about co-writing is that you are there to motivate each other. Are you feeling like giving up? Say it! Maybe your partner has some creative energy left to brainstorm out loud and get you mentally stimulated, again.
If you aren’t crazy about an idea your partner suggests, don’t be afraid to present something else. It is important, though, not to protest if you have nothing better to contribute. Remember to always be respectful. Insulting your co-writer, even unintentionally, is an absolute “don’t”.
The creative process has a delicate balance. In order to create something amazing, you both need to be able to share with each other, trusting that your opinions will be valued and appreciated.
Remember that your partner has the power to shoot down your suggestions, as well. They may not like everything you offer, but you still want them to respect your worth as an artist. A bad idea is better than no idea at all! If you shut your partner down, you bring the flow of thought, inspiration, and action to a halt. Enter the writing process together with a mindset of willingness to listen to each other and be willing to give up ideas of your own if they aren’t perfectly in line with the direction of the song. Don’t take anything personally!