Start Here: Sensory Based Description Course

If you are serious about developing your songwriting, the chances are you’ve heard of Pat Pattison. In case you haven’t, Pat has become somewhat of a guru in the world of lyric writing as a result of his clear teaching and effective practice techniques. At the heart of his philosophy is the importance of sensory-based description, the most fundamental part of engaging our reader or listener.

In his latest book ‘Songwriting Without Boundaries’, Pattison has devised a series of exercises that develop our ability to engage with our senses to describe the world around us. It requires a commitment of ten minutes a day for eight weeks. If you can achieve this, it is hard to see how your ability would not tangibly improve.

If you are anything like me, trying to develop this habit by yourself is not going to be sustainable. You need other people doing the same thing for motivation, inspiration, and most importantly, feedback. Practice is only really effective in the presence of feedback. This is why I have created this community, to forge a little corner of the internet where we can all help each other to improve.

How Does It Work?

If you are on board, it might be worth getting a copy of Songwriting Without Boundaries as he explains things very well and we will be roughly tracing its structure:

  • The first two weeks are plain and simple object writing. Each day an object will be posted for you to write about.
  • The next four weeks become more metaphorical. There are a series of exercises designed to map the language from one domain onto a different domain to see the world in new and even more engaging ways.
  • The final week deals with metric forms specific to songwriters. We apply the same object writing techniques but are constrained to a particular form each day.

As far as the logistic works:

  • The topic of the day will be posted here each morning.
  • You spend 10-15 minutes writing about it.
  • Then please go and read other people’s writing, and leave them some feedback.
  • Hopefully they will return the favour and give you some feedback as well, and all boats will rise with the tide!

Exercises

If you would like to be sequentially emailed these exercises, starting at exercise 1 and receiving one each weekday, please sign up here.

Plain Object Writing

Day 1: “What” Writing - Sky
Day 2: “What” Writing - Bathroom Mirror
Day 3: “What” Writing - Umbrella
Day 4: “What” Writing - Bouquet
Day 5: “What” Writing - Movie Theatre
Day 6: “Who” Writing - Waitress
Day 7: “Who” Writing - Priest
Day 8: “Who” Writing - Cyclist
Day 9: “When” Writing - Graduation
Day 10: “When” Writing - Six in the Morning
Day 11: “When” Writing - Loved One’s Funeral
Day 12: “Where” Writing - Park Bench in the City
Day 13: “Where” Writing - Hotel Bar
Day 14: “Where” Writing - Canoe on the River

Metaphor from Word Collisions

Day 15 - Adjective Noun Collisions 1
Day 16 - Adjective Noun Collision 2
Day 17 - Adjective Noun Collision 3
Day 18 - Noun Verb Collisions 1
Day 19 - Noun Verb Collisions 2
Day 20 - Noun Verb Collisions 3
Day 21 - Noun Noun Collisions 1
Day 22 - Noun Noun Collisions 2
Day 23 - Noun Noun Collisions 3
Day 24 - Noun Noun Collisions 4

Metaphor through Linking Qualities

Day 25 - Linking from Target - Policeman
Day 26 - Linking from Target - Teacher
Day 27 - Linking from Target - Traffic
Day 28 - Linking from Target - Handshake
Day 29 - Linking from Source - Deep-Sea Diver
Day 30 - Linking from Source - Guitar Solo
Day 31 - Linking from Source - Magnifying Glass
Day 32 - Linking from Source - Afternoon Nap
Day 33 - Linking Both Ways - Broken Glass
Day 34 - Linking Both Ways - Sleeping Late
Day 35 - Linking Both Ways - Vacation
Day 36 - Linking Both Ways - Falling in Love

Object Writing in Rhythm and Rhyme

Day 37 - Tetrameter Lines - Sunset
Day 38 - Tetrameter Lines - Art Museum
Day 39 - Tetrameter Couplets - Train
Day 40 - Tetrameter Couplets - Broken Glass

Good luck with working through these exercises and I hope you get a lot from them!

Post Book Exercises

Writing from Pictures
Day 1 - Full Color Photogragh
Day 2 - Semi-Realistic Painting
Day 3 - Black and White Photogragh
Day 4 - Abstract Painting of Objects
Day 5 - Fully Abstract Painting

Word Ladders
Day 1 - Noun-Verb List 1
Day 2 - Noun-Verb Pairing 1
Day 3 - Noun-Verb List 2
Day 4 - Noun-Verb Pairing 2

Writing to an Instrumental - Michelangelo Technique
Day 1 - Freewriting/Brainstorming
Day 2 - Story Line
Day 3 - Capturing Your Senses
Note: Days 4 - 8 use the same instrumental and will result in a full song
Day 4 - Mood, Primary Image, and Theme
Day 5 - Building a Boneyard
Day 6 - Story Line
Day 7 - Capturing Your Senses
Day(s) 8 - Creating a Full Song

Brainstorming - Resulting in Complete Song
Day 1 - Mind Mapping Association Origin
Day 2 - Mind Mapping Association Tier 2, Word 1
Day 3 - Mind Mapping Association Tier 2, Word 2
Day 4 - Mind Mapping Association Brain Dump
Day 5 - Creating Random Lines from Mind Mapping
Day 6 - Organizing those Lines
Day 6.A (Optional) - Using Short Story to Guide
Day 7 - Compiling and Editing Lines to Form Full Lyrics
Day 8 - Creating Simple Music for Those Lines and Finishing Song