Begin writing your song, starting with words or music

2 Ways to Start Writing A Song

If it’s true that “the hardest part is getting started”, let’s take a look at why it’s hard to start writing a song. Then I’m going to make it easier.

The hardest part is getting started.

Sometimes we are just at a loss for how to get inside the process of writing a song. To solve this, we need a way in, or a “door”.

There are many doors to entry and it does not have to be “just the right door”. As long as the door provides entry, you’re in. I have a couple doors, so keep reading.

STARting WITH WORDS

You may have an idea for a story or noticed lyrics for a song starting to form in your mind. A lot can happen in your head before you start writing a song, so it is important to have a pen & paper or recording device ready so you can capture all the random bits as they come up. Start by jotting down your thoughts or the prevailing moods as they emerge.

Remember, too that a song is not always complete when it is only in your head (that’s quite rare). You may have two lines that rhyme and match together but you don’t know if they belong in a verse or the chorus. Instead of trying to figure this all out in your head, get it out in front of you so you can work with the structure and continue to formulate your song.

A songwriter begins writing music on guitar
Capture Your Song Ideas: Pen & Paper or Recording Device

In addition, it is okay to start with a verse, chorus or even a bridge. Writing a couple lines and not knowing if it is a verse or chorus is perfectly fine too. Go ahead and move a key line in a verse to the chorus. Try scratching verse 3 but keeping the best of those words to form a new bridge. Even the whole structure of your song can change. As you are writing, you start to see that your lyrics are malleable and can be moved around as needed.

Starting With MUSIC

A muse is playing and listening to each piano note

If you play an instrument, the music and melody may form the first structure of your song, rather than the lyrics. I know many fantastic songwriters who write this way. They are inspired with ‘sound play’, simply tinkering on their instruments and creating chord patterns that they find pleasing.

The initial music bites you create may be evocative of a thought process or reflect how you are feeling. Go with it and build from there. Again, let the process flow and allow all the tones to emerge from your instrument. Play with different rhythms and tempos to capture your creation.

Remember that your voice is an instrument, too and you can vocalize experimentally without singing anything in particular. The point is to use your voice to express the emerging mood and theme. A lot of singers will suddenly come up with a gorgeous melody. At this point, it is crucial to have a recording device to capture the notes. Even if the lyrics are not there yet, just use a vocal percussion like “da da da boom” or “la laaaaaa lalala” to get the beats and length of notes as you sing. Your lyrics can be concocted later!

STARt Writing a Song With A Template

Whether you start with words or music first, you may prefer to have a framework to start writing your song. You can download a song structure template you like and start filling in your ideas. Popular song structures include:

ABABCB Structure
A is the verse, B is the chorus and C is the bridge
Intro / Verse / Chorus / Verse / Chorus / Bridge / Chorus / Outro
Verse / Pre-Chorus / Chorus / Verse / Pre-Chorus / Chorus / Bridge / Chorus

AABA Structure
A is the verse, B is the bridge
Verse / Verse / Bridge / Verse /

Think of these first writings as your very first draft and keep in mind that your song will go through at least a few drafts, edits, and even re-writes before it is complete. Many novice songwriters believe talent in songwriting means writing a song in a day, or even an hour. But like any good published work, it takes time and effort to create your best. Just ask any published book author!

Now that you are in the door and off to a great start writing your song, you will need consistent effort to successfully finish your song. Many “music first” songwriters create beautiful musical structures, yet struggle with writing the lyrics. Many “lyrical” songwriters can write a stunning vocal lead piece but find themselves rushing through the essential music composition.

These are good reasons to develop your muster, which is critical to successful songwriting. Since some of us are good starters, and others are good finishers, you may want to consider the joys and challenges of co-writing songs in any genre.

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