How I write lyrics with Slice

A songwriter shares how she created a writing process and found creative confidence

Every kind of writer can have a simpler and more organized workflow with Slice. In this series, we’re highlighting the different ways people use Slice to focus and create.

Slice has helped me explore ideas more fully and flesh them out a lot more quickly – and really develop a process that I didn’t have before.

– Gail Kanning

Although she began writing lyrics about 30 years ago, Gail Kanning considers herself a novice.

“It’s something I started a long time ago and life derailed me,” says the singer-songwriter from Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Now 53, she’s diving back into writing songs that meld Americana and blues.

“I’m gaining my confidence. It’s never too late so I’m pursuing it now.”

Gail uses Slice to:

  • Get organized: Slice keeps Gail’s background materials and lyrics separate – but easy to find and arrange. No more wasting time hunting for docs and files.
  • Start writing quickly: She created a project template with notes and information she uses for every song. When inspiration strikes, she’s ready.
  • Stay focused: Gail writes lyrics, listens to music, and reviews notes and research in Slice. No switching between multiple tabs, tools, and software – and depleting mental energy. Instead, she concentrates on creating. 

Read on to learn more about how Gail writes with Slice and how it helped reignite her passion for songwriting.

If you’re already inspired and want to begin simplifying your writing projects, get your free Slice account now.

The problem with relying on notebooks for your writing

Before Slice, Gail’s creative toolbox included notebooks and loose sheets of paper.

While notebooks are portable and handy for jotting down sudden bursts of inspiration, they aren’t ideal when searching for something specific.

“It gets frustrating after a while,” Gail says.

And then there’s the issue of deciphering her own handwriting, which she describes as “less than ideal.”

“Sometimes I go back and look at it and have to try to figure out what I meant,” she says. “What was I trying to say?”

The costs of multitasking and context switching

Gail collects and studies songs that inspire her, taking detailed notes that she references as she writes.

I have a hard time writing in just a plain word processing program and things like that because it isn’t as intuitive as Slice. I can’t connect to notes and include my connections to songs and influences there.

Toggling between Microsoft Word or Google Docs, background materials, and browser bookmarks “slows the flow,” says Gail.

This juggling of tools and tasks, or context switching, also leads to distraction and stress – and burns mental energy better used for creativity.

Slice up your writing project for more focus

In Slice, projects contain and separate everything you need for what you’re writing. Each project has a section for background information and a section for your content. 

Instead of adapting the way she works to writing software, Gail has customized her Slice dashboard for the way she thinks and creates.

Here’s how Gail organizes her songwriting projects in Slice:

  • Major themes: A collection of notes and research about themes and ideas that she gravitates toward in her lyrics. 
  • Musical influences: A library of inspiration filled with MP3s and meticulous notes about artists – from Carole King to Coldplay – who inspire her.
  • Songwriting project template: This contains information she refers to for every song. She can duplicate the template and get to work on a new idea right away.
  • Individual songs:  After Gail copies the project template for a new song, she can add background information, webpages she’s saved with Slice’s integrated web clipper, and recordings of herself playing chord progressions on her guitar. With Slice’s double- or triple-pane view, she can listen, write, and read in one browser window. 

When I open up my projects, the notes are all there. My content, my songs are there. And I can have them open at the same time as my inspiration material, as well as my MP3s.

Here’s an example of how she uses the triple-pane view:

A new workflow designed for creativity and concentration

Now that she’s no longer distracted by multiple tabs and tools, Gail says writing is easier.

She still has notebooks to capture lightbulb moments, but she types those notes into Slice as soon as she can.

“Then I don’t have to worry about what happens to the notebook,” she says. “Having it in an electronic location is reassuring.” 

And she adds that moving her workflow to Slice has allowed her to grow as a songwriter.

My songwriting has become more confident because I’ve been able to develop a process. I’m able to get my ideas down on paper, so to speak, down on Slice and work through it and think about it more effectively because I can do that in one place now.

Ready to simplify your writing projects?  Get your free Slice account now.

More inspiration from songwriter Gail Kanning

Sometimes, even the greatest process is no match against writer’s block. Gail shares how she sparks her creativity when the lyrics aren’t flowing.

Top 3 songs that inspire her:

  • Shower the People by James Taylor
  • Circle Game by Joni Mitchell
  • I Don’t Wanna Hear It Anymore by Shelby Lynne, written by Randy Newman

How she beats writer’s block:

“If I’m avoiding difficult feelings, I get stuck, or feel dissatisfied with my writing, walking helps. It’s something to get my body moving and get blood flowing, and then my thoughts flow more freely.

“I also ask myself the question ‘What is really true for me?’ If I’m stuck in a songwriting story, I try to dig deeper into my feelings and remind myself that the truth is usually simpler. I’m usually adding complexity that doesn’t feel right or isn’t universal enough for a song that touches other people.”

What jumpstarts her creativity:

“These days, getting my truth into a song makes me want to be creative because it’s healing and empowering. I hope my songs will give others joy and encouragement, also.”

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