Welcome to week thirty-two of the #WritersQuick5 series - where we learn about writing from fellow writers.
This week I am so thrilled and honored to jump back into the world of songwriting with the incredible Schuyler Miller. While primarily a songwriter, Schuyler writes poetry and short stories as well. Along with writing her own music, Schuyler does a lot of songwriting with/for other artists, as well as for licensing and placement opportunities (commercials, TV shows, movies, etc).
Be on the lookout for more from Schuyler soon too. She’s currently working on her own solo projects and her debut EP will be released in January 2018. YAY!
Let’s see what Schuyler has to say…
Question #1 - Where do you write and why do you write there?
I write wherever I am. Generally, I carry around a journal with me wherever I go so that I can write things down when the ideas strike. I don't really trust technology - I prefer good old pencil and paper. Oddly enough, I have a lot of ideas come to me in dreams, so there are quite a few late-night notes scribbled on pieces of paper floating around my bed. The first song I ever wrote came to me in a dream. When I woke up, I remembered the first line and ended up writing the rest of the song that day. Recently, the title of short story came to me mid-slumber and I literally jolted out of bed at 3:30 am and wrote the whole thing.
Question #2 - What is unique about writing for your particular genre?
I think that songwriting is such a beautiful, magical thing. I write for all different genres of music, but I feel like there's always something in there that you could trace back to me. I work with a lot of different songwriters and it's always so interesting to see people's styles come out in their songs. Little things that make you go "Oh! That's definitely so-and-so's melody."
Question #3 - What are some of your grammar or punctuation pet peeves?
When it comes to writing lyrics, or poetry, I think you can pretty much do whatever the hell you want. That's part of the fun. But I definitely get annoyed by grammatical/punctuation errors when I'm reading an article or a novel. Maybe I should be more understanding.
Question #4 - At what point in your writing process do you start to bring other people in to review your work?
I used to be so hesitant to let people hear my songs, because I held them so close to my heart. I was very much of the mindset that everything I wrote was special and came through me and onto the page for a reason, and I didn't want anyone to tell me otherwise. To some extent, I still feel that way but I'm much more open to sharing my work now. My songs are my art; my way of expressing myself and working things out emotionally, so it can be difficult to hand that over to someone and say "Here, what do you think of this?" and open yourself up to criticism. But I think that ultimately, it makes you a better writer when you can take critiques of your work and go back and revise what you've done. Because at the end of the day, even though my songs are very special to me and I ultimately want to be the one that curates the end result, I can still recognize the fact that I want them to be accessible to other people. They're my thoughts and my words, but if you can't connect to others through those words then you don't have much. So these days, I share my songs pretty early on in the writing process. I have a lot of people around me whose opinions I respect and trust, so it's great to be able to get that feedback.
Question #5 - What advice would you give to a new writer about the writing process?
As corny and cliche as it sounds, I'd say "Be true to yourself". It's so easy to get caught up in things and compare yourself in a negative way to other people that are doing similar things, but you have to remember that you're the only "you" there is, and your voice is worth hearing. Also, it's okay to be shitty at stuff sometimes. You gotta be willing to trudge your way through the shit if you wanna get to the good stuff.
Thank you Schuyler for these incredible answers. I had my idea for my novel, The Cube, in a dream just like your songs! And I LOVE your advice: remember that you’re the only “you” there is, and your voice is worth hearing. Gosh that’s great. Love love love.
Be sure to follow Schuyler on Instagram and on Twitter and stay tuned for January 2018 when her debut EP is released!
If you would like to be featured as a writer in the #WritersQuick5 series, please just reach out and let me know. I’d love to promote your work as well!
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