8 Tips For Writing Songs

8 Tips For Writing Songs

It can be difficult to find tips for writing songs. Many feel like writing a song is a gift that you either have or you do not. This is not true. Anyone can write a song, and these tips can certainly help.

Before we get into the details you must set your expectations. The odds are almost zero that your first song will hit the top charts. It can take the most popular artist years to accomplish that feat. To make it tougher a lot of it has to do with catchy music and unique voices.

Do not let that deter you, however! You can still write a great song. Just because a song never hits the top charts does not mean it will not leave a powerful impression on someone. Songs are way more than a few popular lyrics. They can be personal, deliver a deep meaning, or even serve as the perfect presentation for your final project (I got a 100).

Here are some tips for writing songs.

1. Start Your Song

I realize this sounds like an obvious tip to start with, but hear me out. The most challenging part of writing a song, especially for beginners, is getting started. More specifically, people question where is the right place to start.

Some songwriters like to start with a few chords. Others want to start with a few catchy lyrics or even a title. Many writers spend too much time looking to discover the perfect way to begin writing a song. They listen to countless artists to try and get a sense of what they do. The truth is it does not matter where you start your song. All that matters is you begin to write it.

Writer’s block can be powerful for songwriters. The longer you wait to start your song, the more doubts, and second thoughts will slip into your mind. When you write a song just get something down to start. It does not matter if it is a chord, a chorus, or even a questionable line.

It is impossible to improve a song you did not write down.

2. Write Everything Down

When I say write everything down I mean everything. If you think of a line or an idea for your song, jot it down. If you hum a nice tune you would like to work with, take an audio note on your phone. It does not matter how simple it is, record it or write it down.

I assure you. If you do not, you will forget it. For some reason, writers have a habit of trusting their memories with their most prized ideas. The issue is, our memories can be extremely unreliable. 

Especially with songs, many artists believe they will remember the catchy lines they came up with. The thing is while you may remember it tomorrow, by the time you sit down to write your song you may forget it. This is especially so if you are a procrastinator and take weeks before you finally get to work.

If you are a free spirit that loves to come up with songs in the shower that is awesome. Just remember to write those lines down when you get out. The number of ideas you will preserve this way will shock you.

Inspiration writing meme

3. Writing Songs is All About the Lyrics

Sure there is a lot more to a song than just the lyrics. However, when you are writing a song it is important not to be all over the place. Focus on the lyrics.

Strong lyrics are essential to a great song. You are not simply trying to write an earworm, you are trying to write something truly impactful. In a way, writing a song is a lot like writing poetry. Your lyrics are what speak to the listener. Good lyrics should spark emotions and linger in the head of the listener. 

Not only should lyrics convey a message, but they should flow with each other. The words should connect in a way that when sung they sound pleasant. Any words that do not mesh well together are not ideal for song lyrics. If you are writing to instrumentals that are already written you also want to make sure the syllables of the lyrics fit in with the beat of the music.

While there are more technical ways to do this I recommend clapping along with the beat of the music. This could give you an idea of how many syllables each line should be. 

If you are stuck simply sing along to the music. It will become obvious if your song does not fit the music. If words feel rushed or mumbled over then there is a good chance a line has too many. If you find words are being stretched too long you may want to add one. This process gets much easier with practice.

However, if this is not for you, you do not need to write songs this way. It is just as viable to write music that fits the lyrics after you are satisfied with the lyrics you wrote.

4. Writing Songs Should Come From the Heart

I’m sure you have heard something like this before. While it may seem easy to roll your eyes at this advice it is true. The best songs come from the heart.

What this means is good songs are an expression of yourself. They are personal in a way that they are unique to you. They should not be about just anything or include bland overused lyrics. Rather, a good song focuses on what you are passionate about. 

Do not feel afraid to get personal when writing a song. Dig deep down and try to express your deepest emotions. Write songs about your favorite people or places. Try and write about the best moments of your life or the worst. 

You want a song to be deep and personal. That keeps it from seeming recycled and generic. Your passion should be evident when someone looks at your lyrics. This will make your song stand out.

Your experiences in life are unique to you. Draw on them when you write your song.

5. Write Songs With a Message

Sometimes it can be tough to write a song because you do not have a sense of direction. It is one thing to make a song sound nice. What is more important is giving it a message.

A message does not have to be complex. It is simply what you are conveying to the audience. It can be something as simple as an emotion to something more complex like a story or a lesson. You do not have to change the world with one song, although that would be incredible.

Think of a message you want to convey with your song and focus on it. A lot of bland and generic songs lack a sense of direction with their lyrics. So long as all your songs’ lyrics contribute to your message in some way you will not have to worry about this issue. 

Not only does knowing your song’s message make it better for the audience, but it makes it easier to write as an artist. Once you know what message you are trying to convey it is easier to think of lyrics. Just try not to make the message too in your face. It is good to make it a bit subtle so the audience has to think a bit.

6. Try Not To Overcomplicate the Song Writing Process

It is easy for your expectations to get in the way of your songwriting. When you try and do too much you overwhelm yourself. It is okay to keep things simple, especially at the start.

When you start writing a song start with some nice lyrics and a few chords. Build up a basic song you are proud of. You do not have to start with all these complex elements and additional instruments. When you try to throw too many things in at once you will quickly overwhelm yourself. 

Also, keep in mind a simple song is okay. I rather listen to a soft acoustic song from the heart than a disaster of a hundred clashing elements. Sometimes less is more. I am not saying you can not add complex elements. I am simply saying take it slow and avoid adding more to your song than you can deal with.

Tips For Writing Songs

7. Take Your Time

Being that the average length of a song these days is just about four minutes you may think it only takes an hour to write a great song. The crazy thing is, in some cases, some artists truly do write an incredible song within an hour. 

The thing is, that is not the norm. Some songs can take hours to write. Others weeks or even years. The point is not every artist takes the same amount of time to write a song. Different songs can take the same artist drastically different amounts of time to write.

Do not be discouraged if it takes you a long time to write a song. Keep working on it until it is something you can be proud of. Never feel rushed to finish up a song. Also, fight the urge to give up when it gets difficult. 

Time is your friend when you are writing a song. Take your time to clean up and tweak some of the lyrics until you have a song you are truly proud of.

8. There are No Magic Tips For Writing Songs

Realize there is no one video or post you can read to instantly learn how to write a song. While these tips can certainly guide you, they are by no means top secret tips that instantly make you an incredible songwriter.

Avoid listening to people claim they have some secret songwriting formula or class that will instantly make you a better songwriter. There are many resources out there that can guide you with great tips for writing songs, but at the end of the day writing a song is like any craft. There are no magic answers.

Do not waste your time looking for too much knowledge. It would be much more productive to sit down and start writing your song. Tips for writing songs are merely tips. The creative touch is within you, not some perfect writing strategy.

Tips For Writing Songs

Conclusion

Anyone can write a song. It is not easy, and there are no instant tips, but it can be done. 

Songs are a great part of any culture. While many people think of songs as entertainment there are plenty more applications and uses of songs in today’s world. They can be used to educate or express feelings to others. They come in many unique genres and are sung by many unique people.

There are many reasons for someone to want to write a song. Some writers even include lyrics in their novels. Whatever your reason is, I encourage you to start writing your song today. While tips are great when it comes to writing songs, nothing is more effective than practice.

Author: Patrick Nilan

Just a young writer looking to take the mistakes I've made to aid the next generation.

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