Using the Songwriter’s Checklist to Diagnose Problems

You’ve just written your new song, but it’s got problems. What’s worse, you can’t really tell what the problem is, you just know that something doesn’t sound right. What do you do?

A few years back I designed a checklist for songwriters to use in such a case, and you can download that free checklist here. You’ll find lots of ideas for going through your song, element by element. Think of it as a guide to diagnosing song problems.

How can a checklist work, when every song is unique, and the product of an improvisatory creative process? If no two songs are the same, what can a checklist do for you?

This checklist looks at song elements, category by category. While it’s true that every song is different, we have decades of pop music history that tells us that the best songs tend to exhibit similar specific characteristics.

Remember that no one should use a checklist if a song is working well. Sometimes you’ll write a song, the success of which seems to defy logic. It seems to stray far from the norms in your chosen genre, and yet it works. In such cases, be happy with your success and move on.

But sometimes a song can have very attractive elements, but yet you can tell there’s something not working. In such cases, a checklist of what normally makes songs work might be just what you need to fix things.

No songwriting checklist can ever hope to be complete, and this one is not meant to outline every possible problem that a song might have. But if you simply need some ideas to get the process for fixing your song started, why not give this one a try.

You can download the free Songwriter’s Checklist by clicking here. Right-click on that link to download it to your computer.


Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

Hooks and RiffsNeed to know more about song hooks, and how to get one working for you? “Hooks and Riffs: How They Grab Attention, Make Songs Memorable, and Build Your Fan Base“ will show you some of the best hooks in pop music history, why they work, and what you can do to write powerful hooks of your own.

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