Write a Song Within an Hour
A lot of songwriters often talk about how they can’t finish songs. You hear it all the time – tales of abandoned notebooks, lone voice notes and old sticky notes on the wall. Well, this blog post will help you solve that problem by showing you a 5-step process to write better songs faster.
This article is a summarised transcript of our video “How to Write a Great Song in Under an Hour”. Click here to watch the video for more details, explanations and examples. You can also see the FULL songwriting process with explanations of chord progressions, melodic choices and lyric writing in action at our Patreon here.
Step 1: Find a Title
It might not seem important but starting with a title provides us with a target for everything else to be anchored to, and helps us understand what the core idea of our song is. You should come up with your title together with a concept. This way, you can clearly have an idea of what your title means in relation to the song.
For example, you could pick the title “Perfume”. Then, your concept could be thinking of perfume as a metaphor for the lingering memory or feeling of someone. However, they’re not around anymore.
A good way to help you think of your title is to write down a title list.
Step 2: Decide on a Song Form
The next step to finish a song quickly is to pick a song form that you’re going to write in. If you know your song form, you can treat it almost as a bucket and all you need to do is fill the bucket.
It narrows down the potential doorways you could walk through into one pathway that you’ve picked to follow.
Step 3: Write the Chorus
This step might feel counterintuitive to some people, but we’re going to start with writing the chorus. When you write the chorus first, this allows you to get to the heart of the song. It’s an interesting mental flip that can really help people who leave songs unfinished because they haven’t found the central idea of the song.
To put it simply, starting at the chorus allows you to find the beating heart of the song, instead of starting with the limbs, feet or toes. You don’t have to write till it’s perfect – just get it to a point where it has a hooky melody, the title and conveys the right ideas.
Step 4: Create a Song Map
Once you’re done with your chorus, don’t start trying to figure out each line one by one. Instead, create a song map. By doing this, you give yourself a specific direction for the entire song. Your song map should describe broadly what Verse 1 and Verse 2 of the song is about. This will help ensure that you’re not repeating the same idea in Verse 2, and the story is actually progressing.
An example of a song map is one where Verse 1 describes the feeling of what it’s like to be inside a certain situation or emotion. Verse 2 will then develop that feeling by describing an obstacle or a challenge to that emotion.
In the context of the title “Perfume”, Verse 1 can be us talking about the person and how wonderful they are. We can make comparisons such as how the person filled every space like perfume, or talk about how they smelt like cinnamon and honey. Then when the chorus hits, we reveal that they’re gone.
This allows us to continue our story in Verse 2 by now talking about how much we miss them being around, and how that makes us feel.
Click here to download a free PDF song map template that will help you finish every song you start:
Step 5: Write the Verse Melody & Lyrics
After you’ve written out your song map, you can now easily compose the lyrics and melody for your verses. Remember to take into account the progression of your story when you‘re choosing your notes and writing your lyrics. This way, all your verses will tie neatly into your choruses.
Conclusion: Write a Song Within an Hour
The 5 steps we’ve discussed are a great guideline for you to use when trying to write a song. However, it’s important to remember that this is neither the only way to write a song nor is it going to result in the perfect song. What it does allow you to do is actually finish a song, and write a great first draft so you can get to the editing stage.
If you would like more details, explanations and examples, then be sure to check out the video now. And remember to check out the FULL songwriting process with explanations of chord progressions, melodic choices and lyric writing in action at our Patreon here.
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: