There’s a rule for songwriters that I have heard from Jack hardy’s quotes: always take something positve when you listen to another performer.
This rule is not just another case of “because you should” or some similar vague guilt trip. I’m not a big fan of the imaginary mom who stands in your brain ready to evaluate what you are doing, just because.
No, this rule is very practical. If you focus on criticisms and negative parts of another person, then you walk away with nothing to add to yourself. “she talked too much about herself.” “He came across as a salesperson more than a musician.” and what do you gain for yourself?
But when you focus on finding some positive stuff from another performer, you then have a little reminder of what you can add to your own work.
- “She talked too much, but her arrangements were very interesting. I need to get better at arranging my songs”
- “His sales pitch was annoying, but his lyrics were clever and provocative. I want to spend more time polishing up the lyrics on my new batch of songs.”
I’m talking about musicians learning from other performers here in these examples, but You can pick up ideas for yourself from areas other than your own.
- A novelist is listening to a rock band, and she is inspired by the dramatic shifts from loud to soft. She tries to employ some dramatic changes in tone while working on her next chapter.
- a songwriter is really digging the characters in a spy novel. He tries doing some character and plot in his next batch of songs, making a deliberate move from abstract symbolism toward a narrative style.
Focus on what you like, and take something for yourself from the other guys.