I've only been playing a couple years. I learned a lot of chord progressions to songs I love, cause I was not good enough to learn the tablature. I also have been studying music theory. Mostly, though, I pick up the guitar and just start strumming. Maybe I'll start with A minor and just play around with different options, find a second chord and strum pattern that seems "right," then see test out where to go from there, ultimately I work my way around into a progression that all feels "right," and works its way back to the start. I'll play around with variations, figure out what I like best, and at some point I work out a second, complementary progression, so I have verse and chorus. Sometimes I work out a bridge or breakdown or something.

The melody just sort of appears when I have lyrics to lay over the chords, or even just start humming. It's usually in my head when I first come up with the chord progression, I think, so I can "hear" the song I'm going for when I play the chords through, but to a listener, they just hear the chords and don't really understand the song I have in mind.

I've been using Reaper to lay down my chord progressions, along with a simple bass line, with the lyric melody I've worked out (usually as a synth lead since I'm not a good singer), and a basic drum progression.

Well, the problem I've run into is that when I just pick up the guitar at night to play around, I find myself noodling and coming up with new song ideas all the time. I have been jotting them down, or even making quick recordings, for fear of "losing them. But now that I've got like 50+, I'm starting to think differently about song-writing. Like, when I find a good progression & melody that speaks to me, I felt like I had found a treasure I needed to guard / save / store / and ultimately share when I get around to it. But now I'm starting to think good progressions / melodies are like breezes in the air, they are limitless, and there will always be more, and trying to save them in a bottle is an empty task.

I'm not particularly good on guitar, and here I have all these songs I'm thinking of trying to "share with the world" like I'm hot shit... It just makes me think, if everyone who had my level of musical skill was churning out songs like this -- or even those with professional level skills -- it would be way more songs than could possibly get any attention.

Anyway, I'm starting to think maybe I need to sort of "ban" myself from trying to write songs, like I'm trying to catch a breeze, or catch lightning in a bottle. If I'm noodling and something sounds good to me, I can just think, "Hey, that's nice," and keep playing without worrying I need to somehow save it or risk losing it.

So, the bottom line is, I'm starting to conclude that, as a self-taught musician, and still pretty amateur, I made an amateur mistake of thinking that every combination I come up with that sound sweet needs to be "saved," not realizing good musicians can come up with sweet sounds at will, and trying to save every nice sound I get on guitar while noodling, as a potential hit song, is like the musical version of being a horder, like those people whose homes are full of crap they think might one day be useful or valuable, but is really just taking up all their space.

Anyone have thoughts on this?

Nope, you'll end up with a lot of regrets. You can work to become proficient at guitar any time, but the most sweet ideas may never come again. Most of the best compositions or ideas from that time were when I was a beginner, when I was full of inspiration. I never realized it, until when I reached an intermediate level where I focused more about technique. My observation was that my beginner compositions seemed to be more melodic rather than trying to be technical for the sake of it. This resulted in me trying replicate the good ideas from the past, and it unfortunately lead to an imbalance. To be honest, I haven't seriously practiced preforming on the guitar for about 2 years now, and these days I'm focused more on composition.

It all depends on what your goal is. Do you want to be in a band? Do you want to be just the performer, or be highly respected in the band by being a composer or both?

I suggest you still write your ideas, good or bad. Who knows? That riff could be your band's biggest hit. Did you know you could also practice performing the guitar by playing your own compositions? It will take more time, however there's nothing better of a feeling than playing something that you wrote.
keep writing and keep recording or whatever if it all sounds good cool one day you might have a need for all those the difference between this and actual horders is that these dont take up any real space

and if anything its all practice for when you start writting songs and beign more picky with your music
If you're good at it, I say discard. I write a lot of music and I happen to be proficient at it, and personally I have too much ideas just waiting to be developed. Just a good idea is only potentially a good song, until you work it out or know how to develop it further it's not going to get you far.

I've thrown out plenty of good ideas, but when I start writing I don't really find myself in trouble of not finding new ones, the real challenge of songwriting is developing and pro-longing an idea.
, I made an amateur mistake of thinking that every combination I come up with that sound sweet needs to be "saved," not realizing good musicians can come up with sweet sounds at will,

who told you this excretions-of-a-horned-male-cow?

all good musicians do make shite-tier songs, only the best of these songs see the light.
don't pretend that your favorite band/singer has no shite songs. 90% of the time there are only two or three good on a whole album, but you buy it anyway just because you're a pretentious teenage boy.

That aside; a professional/real musician however CAN make something "bad"/simple sound very good.

this is somehow related, I was listening to it while typing this; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iq-GvGgNdpM

just four chords throughout the song. The less you use, the less you can f*ck up.. it's just a mather of "do you have the god-given talent of making things so much more awesome than any other person with a guitar"?
Last edited by AmirT at Nov 18, 2013,
Don't stop writing for crying out loud. Never, ever, stop writing, unless it's hurting the rest of your life. Be grateful that music, be it progression, moods, melody or lyrics, come natural to you.

As someone who has written quite a lot during my (a little less than 10 years) time of musical expression, I'm happy that I started writing both lyrics/music and kept going through the years. Through practice, technical/compositional/performance, new musical endeavours, expanded musical horizons and new musical connections, at least my own songwriting has grown alot over the years - a process I can trace since I actually wrote/recorded/saved-in-some-way at least half of all "promising, nice ideas" (and still there is really much room for improvement, good god...)

I do however suggest that you "sleep on it" before you save something. That has helped me to decide what's worth saving now and then. Sometimes you know it instantly, "this progression leading into this break is perfect for me". Sometimes you don't, then you might want to think about it, "sleep on it". Something I recall mr Dickinson of Iron Maiden telling when writing songs, he tends to get plenty of ideas, but before writing them all down he takes a nap - if he remembers some after waking up, he'll know they are worth saving. Some truth in that I presume
the only question i'd be asking is, "are all of these ideas really all gold?" i'd love to be in your situation.
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Recording every song is not a bad idea (i know a few guys that record anything they play to make sure they don't lose a great inspired improvisation).

But you also need to be able to classifiy and sort all that somehow, or you'll end up with a huge unusable mess.

And you have to be able to erase things afterwards, when you realize that some of those "songs" aren't that good.