Essential Songwriting Tips for Beginners

Essential Songwriting Tips for Beginners

Amidst all the doubts and fears, it can be difficult to know where to begin when songwriting. All too many times, songwriters get stuck staring at an empty page in frustration. In this blog post, we’ll explore three essential songwriting tips for beginners that will help ensure that this is a situation of the past.

This blog post aims to summarise our video ‘New to Songwriting? Start here (3 tips)’’. Click here to watch the video for more details, explanations and examples.

Tip 1: Write Small Moments, Not Big Themes

Many beginner songwriters fall into the trap of attempting to tackle grand themes right from the start. While it’s admirable to want to write about homelessness, climate change, or heartbreak, approaching songwriting in this way can put excessive pressure on the song. Often, the result is either cramming too much into the song, causing it to lose focus, or creating something generic and lacking in relatability.

Instead, focus on small moments from your own life. Hone in on the details, emotions, and perspectives within those moments. By doing so, you’ll discover universal themes that resonate with others.

In an interview with John Mayer that I love, he compares the process to attempting to fit the universe into a glass of water. He says that instead of trying to approach songwriting from a glacial perspective, where you fit the universe into a glass of water, to try and write about the glass of water itself. In doing so, you’ll find that focusing on small moments from our lives instead, allows us to find universal themes that not only we relate to, but that our audience will relate to as well.

Here are some practical exercises to help you hone in on these small details and moments in life:

  • Homework for Life: This involves spending a few minutes each day noting something that made that day different from others. This exercise allows themes and emotional truths to emerge from seemingly ordinary experiences.
  • Sense Writing: This exercise involves using your senses to describe moments and experiences in detail, thereby capturing the essence of emotions and creating relatable content.

You can find out more about sense writing and other exercises in the free PDF ebook, “The 5 Best Songwriting Exercises for Writing Great Lyrics.” Click the image below to download.

Tip 2: Balancing Truth and Fact

As songwriters, we deal in truth, not necessarily facts. 

Many beginners feel constrained, thinking they can only write about experiences that have happened to them. However, it’s crucial to distinguish the difference between truth and fact. 

Songwriters have the artistic license to bend facts to convey core emotional truths effectively. For example, you can write about the grief and loss of a pet without explicitly mentioning the specific details of your cat’s passing. By excluding certain autobiographical facts, you can communicate the emotional truth in a way that resonates deeply with others who have experienced similar emotions.

Remember, writing what you know doesn’t mean writing the facts you know, but rather capturing the emotions you know.

Tip 3: Study Your Heroes

Studying and learning from your musical heroes is an essential part of the songwriting journey. Learning how to play your favorite songs by heart is an excellent starting point, but our journey as songwriters doesn’t end there. 

As songwriters, we need to critically and analytically listen to songs. This means that we need to actively dissect the songs, paying attention to things like chord progressions, relationships between chords and key centers, and song structures.

Examples of questions that you could ask yourself are:

  • What chords are used in specific sections? How are they used? Are there chords deliberately avoided? 
  • What is the relationship between the melody and the chords used?
  • Are high notes used in specific places for any reason in particular?

By analyzing and understanding the components that make your favorite songs resonate, you’ll begin to grasp the artistry behind them.

Moving beyond imitating your heroes, strive to emulate them instead. Emulation involves not only striving to look like your heroes, but also to see like them. It’s about understanding their thought processes, and through this understanding, your own artistic voice will start to emerge. 

Emulating your musical heroes and combining their influences with your unique perspective will allow your songwriting capabilities to truly be used to their fullest.

Conclusion: Essential Songwriting Tips for Beginners

In short, the three tips can be summarized to the following:

  • Focus on the small moments
  • Find the balance between truth and fact
  • Actively study your musical heroes

By using these three essential songwriting tips, you can help yourself overcome the initial struggles that many beginner songwriters face, and ensure that you have the tools for a smoother songwriting journey.

If you would like more details, explanations and examples, then be sure to check out the video now.

Turn your inspiration into beautiful songs with step-by-step guidance through two professional songwriting methods. By the end of this course, not only will your tool belt be stocked; you’ll have a plan and a method for finishing your songs – all of them.


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