Every songwriter writes songs differently. Inspiration will come from different places, and some will get lyrics first while others get melodies.
If you are just getting started or if you’re trying to challenge yourself as a songwriter, it is great to get inspiration for songwriting from others and try something new or different to see if it works for you.
I happen to be a songwriter who tends gets both lyrics and melodies simultaneously. There have been a few occasions when I got a melody first, but I can’t think of a time where I got lyrics without a melody.
You may not feel like you are great a creating melodies, and that’s ok! For you, I would recommend exploring the possibility of cowriting with someone who does!
However, if you feel like it is difficult because you are not a musician, I would also challenge you try and learn the basic of an instrument, guitar or piano, just for the purpose of songwriting. You don’t have to be a musician to write songs or melodies, and you can always find a great musician who will sit down with you and figure out the music as you sing through your song. However, if you can challenge yourself to become a musician, your songwriting might blossom into something you didn’t realize was possible.
Songs usually come to me out-of-the-blue!
I can be driving down the road by myself, do things around my house, taking a shower, trying to fall asleep, and on and on, and I will sing a line or two and think hhmmmm… this could be something!
This has caused me to always be ready to reach for my recorder or a notepad. Thank God for smart phones! I use my iPhone to record songs or even hum melodies so I don’t forget them. The app I use is AudioNote, but there are all kinds of voice recording and memo apps that come standard on smart phones or are free to download.
Too many songs have been forgotten because a writer didn’t write it down or record a melody, so whether it is an iPhone, notebook, napkin, your hand, whatever you have available, write it down and record it as soon as possible!
I have quietly sang into my iPhone in the middle of the while trying not to wake my husband up, who was asleep next to me… you gotta do what you gotta do!
When I sit down with the intention of working on a song, you will find me at my keyboard. I hope to challenge myself in the future to become more familiar with the guitar because I like a guitar driven songs, too! If you are play multiple instruments, you should try writing songs from each of them. I have even heard one songwriter say that he picked up his bass and started writing from it, which produced a new sound and style of song than what he was writing from his keyboard.
Challenge yourself to write as often as possible and continue to develop your craft! Songs do come from God and He gives us the ability to write, but we are responsible for becoming the best songwriters that we can be!
This brings me to my last two points…
Edit, edit, edit!
If we are not careful, we can get too attached to our lyrics or melodies to see the need for editing and making it a better song. I have even been guilty of thinking, “well, God gave me this song…I can’t change it!”
This mindset can really hinder our songwriting abilities and keep us from writing exceptional songs. At this point in my songwriting experience, I can go back to a song several days later and decide a line or word, or even an entire bridge, just doesn’t sound as good as I thought it did at the time. It is important to be critical and revisit songs in order to write the best material you can.
Find a mentor!
You need to find someone that you trust that will be completely honest with you, like a music director, worship leader, or songwriter that you look up to.
We all need good, constructive criticism if we desire to grow. Yeah, it hurts sometimes when someone doesn’t like what we’ve written, and it can be intimidating to share something as personal as songs that you’ve written, but believe me, it will benefit you in the long run!
If all you receive is praise and a pat on the back, you might never go beyond where you are currently in your songwriting abilities.
I hope that this post has challenged you and that you go and become the BEST songwriter you can be! If you have songwriting tips to share, please comment below! It would be fun to do a songwriting post made up of readers’ input!