Don't be ashamed about writing for money, inspiration can come from anywhere... a flower, a sunset and yes... a paycheck.
Story is influenced by character. Character is influenced by story. As in life, so in art. This is why musicals can take a long time to write. Let your story influence your characters and let your characters influence your story. See where it leads you...
Give yourself an impossible deadline. The impossible deadline is a wonderful thing. It inevitably enables you to achieve the impossible.
If you are stuck in your writing. Stop writing. The idea that you should write even if you don't want to is madness. It follows that you will just write what you don't want to.
Forget the idea that you are not working if you are not sat at at your piano, playing your guitar or at your laptop. Your brain, your unconscious mind, are working all the time whether you realise it or not.
Advocate for other storytellers. There is room in the world for all of us and what is good for one, is good for all. The beauty of another's work does not detract from the beauty of your own.
There are people who will tell you story is most important, there are others who will say lyrics and music are most important. The truth is that all must be given detailed care and attention. Book must tell the story, music must tell the story, lyric must tell the story, tone must tell the story and structure must tell the story.
Your first draft will never be the best. Let it be the starting point. Let it be the beginning of it's own story. The story will tell you what it requires along the journey.
Try not to force the story down a path it does not want to go.
Talk to people about your work. Do NOT keep it a secret. No one is going to steal it from you. Talking to people interrogates your work . It raises questions. It makes your work live. It makes you accountable to your story.
Do not forget that show business is a BUSINESS. If you want your work to appear on the West End or Broadway one day then you need to treat yourself as a business, not just a songwriter. If you don't then that's fine, you don't need to worry. But question yourself as to what you really want. There's no point lying to yourself and then waking up when you're 80 and wishing you had a show on Broadway.
There are a lot of different types of shows. Some can sell 800 tickets a night, 8 times a week. Some can sell 300, some 100. Put yourself in the mind of an audience member and see which one your show fits into. That way you will have practical expectations for a realistic outcome.
Training is important. But not the sort of training that you think. You just need to learn to how tell a story.
Learning how to read and write music will NOT stifle your creativity. On the contrary it will free you from the limits of your technique. It is simply another tool in your songwriting arsenal. It will help you move beyond your own ability as a performer and into the realm of writing.
It is NOT difficult to learn to read and write music. It just takes time.
If you want to write a musical you should go ahead and write one. And you should expect it to transfer to the West End and you should expect it to be a huge success. And you should also expect it to never be heard beyond the confines of your bedroom.
It is a simple thing to believe that you are right. It is a complex process to come to the understanding that you are SO SO wrong. Your collaborators will teach you this. Don't worry if you get angry with them, or if they get angry with you. The end result will be so much better for the fact of conflict.
Drama is conflict. Every scene. Someone wants something. Something stops them from getting it. END OF. If this is not playing out in the scene then it does need to be in your show.
Look at your favourite song. And then cut it. Cut it for a day or for a week. See what happens. Often, your favourite song is the first one you wrote. And inevitably as the story grows it's original sentiment can become the most redundant. Or it can reinforce it's importance. Either way you will learn something invaluable about the heart of your story.
Cut. cut. cut. You will always have the original version of your script. You can always go back. I can guarantee that you never will.
Let your ego run wild. Believe that you are the best. There is no harm in believing a little white lie if it gives you the confidence to write.
Comedy is surprise. Laughter only comes from someone not expecting something. So imagine what you'd expect and then do the opposite.
Drama is someone wanting something they can't have. The gap between them is the important thing and you must linger there as long as possible in order to maintain tension.
You must give the audience what they want sometimes. Not all the time but sometimes. Or else they will get frustrated with you and the story.
Lyrics must do more than rhyme. Rhyme is the LEAST important aspect of a lyric until you've got the meaning, voice and intention right. Once you've got them right then rhyme becomes the MOST important aspect of a lyric.
Perfect rhymes act as a function beyond themselves. They will make you work harder, they will make you see things you did not see. In extraordinary circumstances they can even change the course of a story. Pursue them relentlessly.
Failing will hurt. No one expects you to get up straight away. But you must get up.
Splitting your focus can be useful for figuring out what it is you actually want to do.
Once you have figured out what you want to do, splitting your focus can only be a bad thing.