Never written a song before? Wondering if you can do it?
Everyone has to start somewhere. Perhaps for you, even though you’re not a songwriter, you’ve been noodling around with bits of what could be seen as a song in the making:
- Maybe you write poetry.
- Maybe you’ve discovered a chord progression you like, and you play it over and over again, just enjoying the way the chords move one to the other.
- Maybe, while improvising at the piano, you’ve come up with a melody/chord combination that really sounds great.
As you know, no single component will make a song. If you’ve got something that looks like it could make a good lyric, for example, you’ll also need to come up with melodies and chords that will work with those lyrics.
And if you’ve never done that before, you’re really at the start: dipping your toe into ocean, as it were, and then taking the plunge.
Songwriting takes a lot of courage, because it’s a very personal to communicate your thoughts and feelings by using music. It takes guts. It particularly takes guts if you’re trying to be unique and innovative.
It’s practically impossible for me or anyone to tell you how to write a song. We all know that a song is a pulling together of melodies, chords and lyrics, and the melodies and lyrics need to be new, a product of your own imagination.
But if you’re ready to take that plunge, keep the following in mind:
- It’s better to write quickly than to stretch the process out for weeks or months. Get something written, enjoy the process, and then be ready to move on to your next song. By writing quickly, you come up with something close to a finished song fairly quickly, and then you’ve got something you can fix. (You can’t fix dead air!)
- Don’t fixate on “Can I do this” kinds of questions. Use your instincts and be impulsive. The answer to “Can I do this” is always “If that’s what you want.”
- There are no rules. There are guidelines and principles, though. The more you listen to good music, the more you become aware that every genre has a particular sound. But how you achieve that sound doesn’t come from rules, just principles… and expectations.
- Try as much as possible to keep your inner critic suppressed while you’re writing. Especially when writing quickly, you can be too hard on yourself. It’s far better to get something written and completed, even knowing that something about it isn’t working. You can always go back and fix things. But your inner critic will always present you with doubts and make you feel nervous. Stay confident!
- As you continue to write new songs, focus on one aspect of your writing as an area of improvement. It will help your long term development as a songwriter if you choose one part of your songwriting at a time — lyrics, for example — and keep striving to improve mainly in that one area, at least for now. You may listen to your early efforts and think everything needs to improve! But life is long, and you’ll have a long time to improve. By focusing on one aspect of your writing, you’ll more quickly see the benefits that come from that one point of focus.
And just to reiterate: putting your songs out there takes courage. These days, there are people to find it easy to express hate online, so you have to rise above that. Remember that it’s unreasonable (and unattainable) to expect everyone will love your songs. Some will love them, some will dislike them, and that’s normal.
Good luck, and have fun!
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