sheet musicThe topic of today is a little different – song writing, music writing, creating a melody … essentially, everything that can be considered an element of crafting a piece of music.

If you’ve ever tried to come up with your own music there are two different paths you were likely to follow:

  • Come up with a melody and then try to make it perfect.
  • Come up with a melody and then use it almost immediately, without trying to make it perfect.

As you can see, they don’t get along very well… First of all, what’s the difference?

Basically, the first approach is when you come up with a melody, but there’s something that doesn’t sound right about it, so you try to make it sound perfect. The only problem is that “perfect” never comes.

The other approach is when you settle for a given melody, and then try to come up with some other elements. Maybe a lead guitar line, or some basic drums. Essentially, it’s when you start turning a melody into a song.

Now, which of these is the good approach to follow?

Trying to be perfect sounds nice and all, but actually, it’s a slow killer.

The problem with perfectionism

There are two things that are seriously wrong about trying to be perfect.

  • You can never be perfect (that is the obvious one).
  • Who are you to decide what’s perfect and what isn’t?

The second one is actually the real killer.

When you’re working on a song you can fall into thinking that you are a know-all. That the song is not right because you think it’s not right. That the melody is silly because you think it’s silly. That the solo is weak because you think that it’s weak.

This may be true, but you might as well be wrong.

Essentially, the advice I have for you today is to learn how to settle for what you have, and build up on it by following the process of creating a song.

Doing a thousand variations of a melody before you consider it being OK is not a good idea. Most likely, the “OK moment” will never come.

People have not reach the technology we have today by being perfect. Computers were not created by making everything perfect. Blues has not been created by making the sounds perfect. Lady Gaga does not release perfect albums…

Perfect has always been an enemy of good. So…

How not to be perfect when crafting a song?

First of all, understand that in most cases good enough is good enough.

This is not a popular opinion these days, but it’s true.

Do you remember the idea of the last 10% I was talking about a few weeks back? The principle is kind of similar here too.

Getting something to the level of being perfect will take you probably three times as long as getting it to the level of “good enough.”

So how to identify this “good enough” moment? Every situation is different, so it’s hard to give a one-size-fits-all answer. However, in most cases something is good enough when you create it, and then immediately think something along the lines of “wow that’s nice, but {insert a reason why it’s not perfect}.”

If you find yourself in such a scenario chances are that what you have is indeed good enough.

Now, will you become famous after sharing your piece with the public? Probably not. But you surely won’t ever become famous if you keep working on your “perfect” songs till the end of your days without showing them to anyone…

What’s your opinion on perfectionism? Do you consider yourself being a perfectionist?