Writing a song is an important step towards becoming a music artist. It’s also pretty hard! Writing isn’t everyone’s strong point but, as with most talents, you can build your skill with practice. Sometimes it takes writing a dozen songs to find one that really speaks to your personality and has the potential to communicate with others.
1. Get In The Right Headspace!
Writing a song is not a technical thing. It’s creative, and you can’t force creativity. Clear your mind before you pick up your pen and paper, voice recorder, or laptop. Cultivate a sense of creative calm by doing whatever you do to relax: yoga, drinking a cup of tea, going for a run, or listening to some music you really love.
2. Choose Your Point of View
Most songs are written from one of two perspectives: that of the writer, or that of a character. Some songs are more complex, but for a beginning writer you can stick to one of the above perspectives. Many, if not most, artists choose to write what they know – things or feelings that are entwined with their daily life. Think confessional pop songs from Taylor Swift, Pink, or Gotye. Artists who write from a character’s perspective vary from the highly artistic, such as Kate Bush, to the classically fun, like Jim Croce. It’s also possible to combine the styles to portray your own interests and feelings thinly veiled through a character, or to write about age old literary motifs and common themes.
3. Choose Some Words That Pop
Words can sometimes gather their own energy, especially when placed in the right sequence and sung with the right tone or inflection. Eminem is a master of such wordplay. Pick a few key phrases that sound good to you, words that catch your interest. Figure out how to use these words in a way that will spark the interest of others.
4. Pick Your Style
Pick the main sound for the song – pop, guitar-based, country etc. It’s a good idea to stick to a sound you really enjoy and listen to often, so that you’ll already be familiar and comfortable with the genre. Don’t pick a style simply because it is popular. You need to love the work you do – or at least like it enough to keep doing it!
5. Play Your Song
If you can play an instrument, try to flesh the song out yourself. If not, consider working with someone who does. Ask friends and family if they might be able to help you out with some piano or guitar in order to get your basic song worked out. It never hurts to have another set of ears to work on your song, either.
6. Make a Demo Version
Record an early version and listen to it as if you were a third party. You can ask yourself, “would I turn the station if this song came on the radio?” Don’t be overly critical – we often hear only the bad when we evaluate our own work. Share with a friend or two for more feedback.
Songwriting is not easy, but it is rewarding. Like any muscle, your songwriting will get stronger the more you use it. After going through these steps you may decide you need to go back to the beginning – or you may realize you have something you really like on your hands.