Preface: I am not a psychologist; I'm a musician who happens to also be very interested in how I/we function on an emotional level.
How do you feel? Have you ever been sad but not known why? Or happy, without having a good reason? Enter the power of songwriting.
I had been writing songs for a while before I realized that they could be more than just creative projects. They could actually be a form of emotional processing.
Sometimes I sit down to write a song about a specific experience. A break up or mental health or a reflection on some concept or world scenario. But more often, as I write down the words to a music I have made, I realise what the song is about, word by word, and therefore something about myself, no matter how heavy or mundane.
Just recently I helped myself process the concept of Death through lyrics. Here is a small excerpt from the (as of yet unreleased) song:
"My body aches
My body breaks
My body will decompose
I'm frightened of the end
I can't claim to pretend
In seconds I will end
And then where will I go?"
These lyrics are honest and poetic in ways that mean I don't have to hold my fears and ideas in the peripheries of my mind any more. I know where to find them when I need them.
Here's an excerpt from another song I wrote a while ago (also as of yet unreleased) about just staring into space, a smaller than death yet equally human topic:
"I've been sitting here for a while
Tracing peeling paper with my eyes
Is it possible
To feel alright?"
Gloomy, everyday, dull, feels. But valuable, to me, in these words' simple reflective qualities.
Writing songs seems to create a perfect outlet for the (my, and your?) human brain to unpack and express the emotional baggage we (I, you?) carry around. It has shown me the power of allowing each emotion, no matter how mundane or extreme, its own room to be felt, heard and shared.
Songs are like tattoos for your brain. To me, they are a dedicated artistic space upon the skin of my existence for a feeling to be permanently drawn outside of my mind for as long as the paper lasts. The writing process can be fun, or painful, or both. But immensely rewarding.
Writing songs for me is a way to clamber deeply into and then out of my head. Finding the lyrics for my music from within the (often unconscious) depths of my mind can help me to find out and/or understand something about what it is I am actually feeling (not as scary as it sounds, I just mean that I usually write down whatever comes out and observe it afterwards).