Write down ideas that your co-writers throw out, so you can use them later. When you throw out ideas in a co-write, you are not giving your co-writer license to use those ideas later. Just discuss the ideas thrown out, pick one and write it. Take care NOT to use titles that your co-writer throws out later. If they throw out an idea you also have written down, at least tell them up front and seek for a permission even if it’s verbal.
Show up drunk, hungover, dead tired or other-wise impaired. If you are not ready to work, just cancel. Cancelling is more respectful of your co-writer’s time than showing up and wasting their time.
Come in with nothing. If you don’t have any ideas, don’t come. Showing up with nothing is the songwriting equivalent of asking for a handout. You’re showing up hoping your co-writer is going to have something brilliant to give you as a gift since you aren’t prepared to contribute. Always come into a co-write ready to rock.
Continually say “I think we can beat this” without actually trying to offer options that beat what you have. I had a co-writer once that said “I think we can beat this” for about three hours and never once offered up a line as a possible option. I suggested that he “beat it” – as in LEAVE. If you can’t beat the line, be cautious about using that phrase. I try to wait until I have an option to throw out before I suggest that the line we have is no good.
Announce AFTER you write that you can’t pay for a demo. If you are trying to write commercially, the whole point of the exercise is to write and record something that you can pitch to artists. It doesn’t do anyone any good to write a great song that will never get recorded because you can’t get a demo of it to pitch. And it’s not fair to your co-writers to expect them to pay your part of the bill. If you are in a tough spot, just be up front with co-writers BEFORE the write and tell them where you are at. If you work out something in advance, everyone will be happier.
Talk bad about your co-writers. If a co-writer of mine is talking trash about other writers when they write with me, I assume that they are probably trashing me to other co-writers. Co-writers are your business partners. It hurts YOU to talk bad about a co-writer. It elevates your stock to brag on co-writers and build them up. If you don’t think a co-writer is very good, stop writing with them, but don’t talk bad about them.
Avoid those 6 mistakes and you’ll be a better co-writer.