I've lightly touched in my previous posts about how substantial a boost collaboration is to your skills as a musician, but in this post I want to delve into that a bit more. Now I know first hand that at times collaboration can be difficult, especially when you have more than one person taking creative lead on any form of artistic project, but collaboration, more often than not, brings about some of the best music anyone involved could create. When I talk about collaboration I don't mean that it has to be completely even either. It could even be as simple as someone completely writing a song and then taking it to someone else and asking their opinion, the other person suggests a change, you agree, and then you apply that change, it can be that small. Throughout my own song-writing career I have been at both sides of that situation and that extra bit of feedback can sometimes be what you need to turn a good song into a great song.
I tend to end up in the creative lead role in most of the projects I am a part of nowadays, I guess my ADHD just naturally puts me in that position due to my hyper-focus and ability to churn out ideas due to this; however I also feel that an important aspect of my process that leads to this happening is how I more often than not tend to see an idea through to the end, and I recommend anyone out their looking to become a song-writer do this. Taking an idea to it's conclusion is the same as running drills, it builds your song-writing skills, and collaboration is like playing a sport in a team, you develop those skills with others and tend to see faster more extreme results, and to develop as a song-writer you need to utilise both. Additionally it can make your music sound different and unique collaborating with others, I see it like everyone has their own spice, and if you write in isolation all your getting is your own flavour, now this flavour can be marginally influenced by listening to new things and trying to take influence from there, but there will always be tendencies that you will subconsciously stick to and it'll take someone else's influence to take some of those tendencies out of your music, in turn making your music more interesting, and furthering your development.
I also feel like you should experiment with different percentages of involvement in song-writing. By this I mean you could do 95% of the writing, and then the next song do 5% and everything in between. Taking the back seat on a collaboration can teach you as much about the process and your own skills as going head first into the drivers seat. Also experiment with genres, this is very important! Even if that means collaborating with different people for different genres. Also for that matter collaborate with different people as well! I would maybe create a comfort zone for yourself, like a band you are in or a song-writing partner, but don't be afraid to explore outside of that, and also encourage whoever is in that zone with you to do the same. This will benefit all involved both ways. If you are just starting out and don't have that comfort zone yet then I would recommend that be your first step, it doesn't even need to be someone musical, as long as the person has listened to music in their life (and who hasn't) then there is merit in that collaboration, you just have to be open to it.
Collaboration is key to development, that's the way we are programmed as a social species. You have to be open to criticism, know how to judge what you feel is right vs what hurts your ego, be vulnerable and above all, love what you are doing. My development as a song-writer can be split into the collaborations I had along the way, almost like chapters in a book, and it should be the same for you too. People come and go and that's ok, but what we take from those collaborations is what builds our flavour, which then spices up other's flavours, and so on and so forth. So collaborate and see where it takes you!