It’s February 22, 2022, so I wanted to do something creative and fun. I’ve been taking songwriting extremely seriously for a few years now, and I’ve learned a lot on my journey so far. In honor of this special day, I decided to share 22 pieces of advice for songwriters.
22 Pieces of Advice for Songwriters
In no particular order, here are 22 golden pieces of advice for songwriters.
1. Always be authentic. If you write from the heart and speak your truth, there will be a spark of magic that feels natural and beautiful. You can never go wrong with being authentic and genuine in your writing. This is something I fully believe.
2. Practice the craft of songwriting every day. It’s key to work your songwriting muscles daily. This can be something as simple as doing a five-minute freewriting session in the morning or playing chord progressions on your guitar.
3. Be patient with your songs. Some will come more naturally than others, and just because a song is taking longer to write doesn’t mean it holds less potential than one that you wrote quickly.
4. Educate yourself about the craft of songwriting every chance you get. Whether it be reading a book or taking a course, there’s always so much more to learn about songwriting. The more tools and techniques you know, the more you’ll grow as a songwriter.
5. Co-write with other songwriters. When you write with others, you open yourself up to the magic of creating a song with someone else. During the experience, you’ll improve your own skills while also allowing your strengths to shine.
6. If a song is really giving you a hard time, set it aside for a while. Sometimes, we can get so wrapped up in the craft that we lose the magic we felt when we started writing the song or forget what we’re even trying to say. Setting the song aside and returning to it another time allows you to look at it with a fresh perspective.
7. Show your songs to others for feedback. It’s so important to share your songs with other songwriters and even people who simply love music. When you do this, you’re giving the song a chance to be heard by others and the feedback you receive will help you craft it even better.
8. Don’t be analytical while writing the first draft of a song. It’s so important to say what you need to say and get all your initial ideas out when you feel inspired to write. There’s time later to take an analytical approach to the song, but while starting, write from your heart instead of your mind.
9. Embrace the rewriting process. Rewriting is probably one of the most important parts of the songwriting process. Once a song is written, there is always room for improvement, whether that means tweaking the lyrics, changing the chord progression, or even making the choice to repeat the title at the end of the chorus. There are so many opportunities to dig deep and make sure the song is exactly how you want it.
10. Explore writing other genres. If you want to write for artists, like me, the more knowledge and experience you have with multiple genres, the better. Each genre has something to offer, like storytelling in country and a catchy hook in pop. If you take the time to study and write various genres, you’ll be in a much better position to work with artists that have a different style than you.
11. Never force any part of the creative process. If you start to feel like you’re hitting a wall and your inspiration isn’t flowing naturally, that’s a sign to either take a break or switch up what you’re doing. If the lyrics are giving you trouble, maybe pick up your guitar and explore the chords. If you’re stuck on the melody, maybe read through the lyrics and make some tweaks. Maybe you just need a break all together for a while. That’s okay. Whatever the case, don’t force the process because you won’t end up with your best work.
12. Network with other songwriters. I can’t stress enough how important it is to connect with other writers beyond co-writing. Music is a business, and it’s essential to interact with other songwriters, whether that be in songwriting workshops, at retreats, or simply by forming a group of writers and sharing your songs for feedback. There are so many ways to build relationships with others, and this is key.
13. Do songwriting challenges to stay inspired and step outside your comfort zone. There are so many great songwriting challenges, including using writing prompts, setting a goal to write a certain amount of songs in a given time, and changing up your process to force yourself to write a song in a different way. All songwriting challenges allow you to try something new and fresh and push you outside your comfort zone.
14. Analyze hit songs and your favorite songs. I love doing this. When you take time to really look at a song from an analytical craft standpoint, you start to notice the qualities of the song that make it a hit or draw you in. These qualities come from songwriting tools and techniques. Once you recognize what they are, you can use them in your own writing.
15. Search for title and concept ideas in your everyday life. Some of the best titles and concepts come from overheard conversations, reading books, and many other typical situations. You’d be surprised by all of the song ideas waiting to be discovered if your heart and mind are open to looking for them.
16. Write down and record any and all ideas. Sometimes, you have an idea for a song, whether it be a title, lyric, or melodic motif. We all think that we’ll remember them later, but the truth is, they’ll slip away. Even if you don’t think the idea is the best thing in the world at the time, take note of it in some way because you never know.
17. Be confident in your writing. Believe me, I know how it feels to second guess my work. Still, it’s important to brush aside doubts and allow yourself to write without judgment. Creativity and inspiration can’t be clouded by uncertainties, so be confident in your songwriting.
18. If you aren’t educated in music theory, take time to learn the basics. There are many songwriters who don’t know music theory, but as someone who has a degree in music, I’ve found that knowing theory makes songwriting much easier. You don’t have to know extremely advanced theory. The basics will be enough to make your songwriting flow more smoothly and hold more intention from a musical standpoint.
19. If you don’t play an instrument, consider learning piano or guitar. Being able to play both piano and guitar allows me to be a very independent songwriter. It’s much easier to get into the songwriting headspace when I’m with one of my instruments. Knowing how to play an instrument will not only give you more independence while writing. You’ll also be able to perform your songs live as well.
20. From time to time, reflect on how you’ve grown as a songwriter. It’s so easy to get caught up in the present and look ahead to your goals, but it’s important to take a step back every once in a while to reflect on your journey. You’ll be surprised to see how much you’ve grown over a period of time, and it’s important to recognize this and feel proud of yourself.
21. Set SMART songwriting goals for yourself. Having specific, measurable, actionable, reasonable, and time-based goals will give your songwriting direction. We’re all on our own journeys, so it’s important for you to know what your unique journey is. A songwriter who wants to write songs to release as an artist and a songwriter who wants to write for other artists will have different paths. Knowing what you hope to achieve with your writing will get you one step closer to reaching your goals.
22. Believe in yourself. This is absolutely key. No one will believe in you or your songwriting until you do. So, get out there and chase your dream.
I loved putting together this list of 22 pieces of songwriting advice. I hope it inspires you to continue down your songwriting journey with more creativity, motivation, and intention. Now, keep following your heart and chasing your dream. Happy songwriting!