A Beginner’s Guide to Songwriting

A Guide to Songwriting
A Guide to Songwriting

If you’ve ever tried writing a song, you probably know how difficult it can be to get from initial draft to finished product. You might have a few ideas or melodies jotted down or recorded, but no intuition as to what to do next. The good news is that you’re not alone. In fact, just about every songwriter has been in this position.

However, it’s no use having your ideas perpetually lie around in your notes. This doesn’t allow you to reach an audience or build a discography. For that, you need to be acquainted with the step-by-step process that professional songwriters use to get their music heard. This comes in the form of guidelines for creating, polishing, and sharing your work.

Gather Your Tools

The first step is to equip yourself with the necessary tools for writing award-winning music. Be sure to keep them handy so that you can capture your thoughts and feelings whenever inspiration hits.

Recording Device

It’s wise to have a central location where you can efficiently collect, store and organize everything related to your music. Whether you use a note app on your smartphone or laptop, or a traditional pen and journal, having your ideas in one easily accessible location ensures that you won’t have to chase down napkins and worry about forgetting things.


Most artists use an instrument for background music when creating and practicing their songs. Popular options include the drums, guitar and piano. Some prefer digital alternatives, using tracks and samples to provide a foundation for their melodies. Software such as Logic, Pro Tools and Garage Band are available for this purpose.

Choose a Theme

The best songs are imbued with meaning. What your music means can vary depending on who it’s for. In any case, your work should be based on a main, unifying idea. You might be writing about dancing, partying, love, heartbreak or living a certain lifestyle. You don’t have to come up with something revolutionary here.

People don’t mind listening to the same themes over and over. What matters is that they can relate to what they hear. Your goal is more to make new out of old by bringing your own fresh perspective and style.

With a central theme established, you can get into the mindset of keeping an eye (or ear) out for inspiration. Let’s say, for example, that you’re writing a song about how much you admire your partner. When you go out or meet with other couples, you could pay attention to what they say about each other and perhaps get a few lines for your song.

Structure Your Song

If the theme is the floor of your house, the structure is the walls. Start by determining your goals for the music you’re writing. Are you aiming for commercial success? Is it just something you’re doing for a smaller crowd, such as an online community or friends? Knowing the answer will point you towards the right structure for your song.

Pop music sounds the way it does because it’s based on a familiar structure that listeners know and are comfortable with. The same applies to every other genre. Outlining the structure for your song will create a useful guide for you to follow, as you’ll understand exactly where to place intros, verses, choruses, pre-choruses and outros.

Draft Your Lyrics

With the aforementioned elements in place, we can start adding lyrics with more confidence. Remember that it’s much easier to write lyrics once you’ve established a solid concept. If the idea is weak, inspiration won’t come so easily.

Another way to improve your songwriting process is to find a suitable environment. You want to be somewhere you can focus and stay productive. This is why writing studios are a popular option. Take a look at Pirate’s writing studios. They’re available 24/7 and fitted with professional equipment including microphones, keyboards, headphones, and more.

The process for adding lyrics varies, but most writers tend to start with the chorus or hook. In doing so, you point your ideas back to that central theme, helping you stay consistent with what you write. Chances are your song will have more than one chorus, so at the end of each, you can ask where you want the story to go next.

You can also try the approach of building back from the ends of your verses. Professional writers recommend that you always inspect the last lines in the first pre-chorus and second verse. The content in these sections is what listeners tend to remember more clearly.

Build the Melody

Even the most incredible lyrics aren’t worth much without a pleasant melody to deliver them.

It’s in your melodies that the audience will find emotion and something to sing back afterward. For writers whose main goal is commercial success, it’s best to keep the melody as simple as possible.

Keeping it Simple

You’re probably familiar with “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” The nursery rhyme-level melody is basic, but that’s also what makes it so memorable. You only need to hear it once and you’re able to instantly sing it back. Therefore, when deciding on a melody for your song, it’s useful to ask how you can structure it so that listeners can repeat it the first time.

Getting the Flow

A crucial note here is that melodies don’t always come first, and neither do lyrics. When you have a few verses available, recite a line and notice where you’re putting the emphasis. Then, try singing it in a similar manner. This will usually help you identify when a verse doesn’t quite feel right, which often has to do with how you say it in real life.

While there are some exceptions, it’s generally better to put your vocal emphasis (as it pertains to the melody) on the parts of words that are usually emphasized when they’re said in everyday language.

From here, it’s mostly a matter of developing chord progressions and then recording your work. Follow the steps above, remember to put some passion into it, and you’re sure to have a hit.

You May Also Like