Today we want to dive into writing your own songs. If you ask 10 different artists about their process, you will likely get 10 very different answers. We like to think of these tips as tools in your toolbox. Everyone is going to find different inspiration to get words and music onto a page, but having a wide selection of tools to facilitate your songwriting is a big help.
Our personal approach to songwriting has always revolved around concepts. With that in mind, these are some of the tips we found especially helpful in realizing a song.
Learn more: Songwriting: What to Write About?
Write every day
Whether you have a song in mind or not, sit down in front of your computer, notepad, or piano, and write something every day. Being disciplined and setting aside an hour or two exclusively for writing will help you get songs out.
Even if you only write down one word during your session, getting into a habit of scheduling this time and using it will help you produce material in the long run. You are training your brain to treat your songwriting like a job (which it is!), and you will be amazed at how much writing you start to accomplish if you stick to your schedule.
Learn more: Creativity 101
Reserve judgement for later versions of your work
It’s easy to get bogged down in early drafts of your songs, and throw something in the trash before it’s complete. Turn off those judgemental voices while you’re working out new songs, and leave the critiques and edits for later. Focus on pushing out your words and melody for now - you might be pleasantly surprised with the end result, even if you dislike what you’re writing at the beginning.
Don’t toss out a song at the beginning just because it sounds like another song
This happens to us pretty frequently. We’ve got a couple lines of a song down that we're thrilled with, and suddenly realize the melody sounds like another song.
Sometimes we are tempted to trash the melody at this point, but I’ve realized it’s important to keep working on the song, and see where the melody and chords end up. Often by the time we’ve finished the piece, it doesn’t sound anything like the song we thought of previously.
Write on location
Bringing a notebook out on field trips can can be very helpful by immersing yourself in a concept, this can be very inspiring. Getting out of the house and giving your eyes something new to look at can really get your ideas flowing, especially if you find yourself experiencing writers block.
Use songs you love as a jumping off point
Take a look at some of the songs you love most - how the verses are put together, where rhyme is used, and where the chords change. Seeing the way these songs have been created can give you a blueprint for your own work, and kickstart those songwriting gears.
And again, don’t be afraid at first if your song sounds a little too much like its inspiration - as it evolves and takes on its own life, you may be surprised at how different it ends up being.
Change up the instrument you’re writing on
Chances are you tend to use your main instrument when you’re writing a song, whether that’s your voice, your guitar, your piano, or whatever other instrument you play the most. If you’re able to play any other instruments, try switching it up sometimes when you’re writing a song.
We mostly sing and play the keyboard, but can also play chords on the guitar. Sometimes even just hearing chords on those two different instruments helps keep our writing moving, and can sometimes produce a different result than if we had stuck to our usual process.
These are just a few ideas to help facilitate and inspire your songwriting. There are entire books written on the subject, but we hope these tips have helped fill up your toolbox a bit more!