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  • Writer's pictureIan Galipeau

September Songs

Last month, I took on a challenge that was well outside my comfort zone, as a songwriter - I set a goal of finishing a song every day for a month. On the 2nd, I saw a post from songwriting coach Andrea Stolpe, where she was talking about the merits of a 30-day songwriting challenge. She framed it as a "quantity begets quality" kind of approach - yes, you'll have some mediocre songs, but you'll also make room for some good songs to come out, too. For whatever reason, I decided to dive in and start that day. I didn't post about it then, because I didn't want to be held accountable for it on social media, if I found it completely miserable... but I gave it a shot. And from the 2nd to the 30th of September, I did it. With a single exception at the very end* I finished a new song every day for 29 straight days.

It's absolutely wild to me to be starting start October with 29 new songs. For context - between January 1, 2021 and the end of August 2023, I completed 27 songs. I finished more songs in the last 30 days in than in the previous one thousand days. Literally. Of course, with that kind of timeline pressure, there are a few rough ones... but there are also some I'm really proud of. Not just "proud of, for writing it in a single day," but legitimately proud of. They stand up with my best songs. I can honestly say - I did not expect that at all.

The entire challenge was an incredibly rewarding process, and it forced me out of my normally slow, deliberate workflow. To write a song a day, I had to come up with ideas quickly, make decisions quickly, and keep things simple. The biggest revelation for me was that I was approaching literally everything with a "how can this be a song?" mindset. I was hearing every sentence spoken by people around me as a potential lyric. I was looking for metaphor and meaning in everyday objects, wondering how I could build them into a verse (floorboards, a parking lot tree, cracks in the pavement, a crow pecking at a tire... all of these were the starting points of songs). I was getting prompts from people around me (write an 80's pop song; write a song a kid can understand; write a song around this news story) and setting myself random prompts (write a song where the chorus is mostly instrumental; write a song with only 2 chords; write a song that sounds like this other artist). I was branching out, writing in different tunings (EADGAd was the source of a couple new tunes) and on different instruments (5 were written on piano!). I was using songs as personal catharsis in a way that I haven't since college - small moments and frustrations that I would usually just let pass, I'd intentionally lean into my emotion and try to extract a song from it. It was both taxing and rewarding... I don't think I'll make a regular habit of it, but for a few weeks, I'm grateful for the experience, and for the songs that came from it.

The thing that most surprised me was that I actually completed it. I truly didn't know that I was capable of sustaining that level of creative focus and generation for 4 weeks - to continually find ideas and form them into coherent songs (while also having a full-time job, and another band, and a family). But now it's October, and can look back and say "I did it," and it feels very empowering to know I have that ability. I don't need to wait for that perfect idea to come to me anymore - I can go find it.

Now I just have to sort through 29 songs, and figure out which ones need to be shared, and how exactly I will do that... which will be another whole process. I may enlist your help for that.

*I actually finished the song for the 30th on October 1st

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