“Writing your own songs” is a term commonly used by singer-songwriters to sound like they’re the most well-educated, no-nonsense lyricists ever.
Truth is, the vast majority of people who pen their own songs haven’t gone through any sort of songwriting class or composition program.
The thought of them sitting down for a productive writing session is absurd, but the reality is that for many singers, writing their own songs is the most productive form of songwriting.
When a singer writes their own songs, though, they spend all of that time on one song, and it becomes clear that there’s more to writing a song than people tend to realize.
To gain the same degree of efficiency as writers, singers need to get better at this craft.
Here are the mistakes that people make when it comes to writing their own songs:
1. They don’t write themselves
Songwriting is a process, just like other art forms, and it takes time. There’s nothing wrong with recording your ideas or having others work on them for you.
There’s just one problem: When you are writing your own songs, you have to write them yourself.
Whenever I write my own songs, I have a pen and notebook by my bedside.
When I wake up in the morning, my music is playing in the background, and I write down the ideas that come to me as I work out.
As the morning goes on, I start completing sentences or writing words that seem to make sense. Later, I’ll go back and edit them, and refine them.
Eventually, I will start to put the song together into a complete story.
This process is challenging for many reasons: It takes a lot of discipline and patience.
When you write by yourself, you have to be brutally honest with yourself.
I spend a lot of time going back and editing what I’ve written, which can be painful, especially at first.
Often, I find myself fighting to write something nice because I have a fear of someone reading it.
Writing with other people, especially those you don’t know, can help, though.
Having other people give constructive criticism and their own ideas can help in the final piece.
And when you have someone who can sing your song back to you, you will always have the best experience possible when it comes to rewriting your lyrics.
2. They don’t focus on the reason they are writing
When I sit down to write my songs, I focus on one thing: getting the song finished.
Yes, I may occasionally stray into another topic, but if it’s not needed, I can simply step away and come back to it later.
I also never make time to think about whether my song is good.
Sometimes when I have a problem with a song, I’ll spend a while just contemplating it.
How can I improve this? How can I make it into something better?
In other words, I start to analyze the problem and what needs to be done to fix it.
While I may never be able to get to the root cause of the problem, I can certainly figure out how to solve it.
A great songwriter I know once told me that his biggest challenge was to get into the flow.
What he meant was that he had to focus on his song and not allow himself to think of anything else.
This is especially important when you are first working on a song because you have so many choices of what to do with it.
As you go along, you will find the best choices to work with.
3. They don’t find people who can help them
Music is a social art form. Everyone has heard a song before and remembers a melody.
Whether you have a unique voice, you’re an artist, or you’re just a producer who doesn’t know how to read music, you can use other people’s voices to help your songwriting.
I love to work with new writers and producers. I think that a lot of songwriters go about their work conservatively, and they think that everything needs to be their own.
They are scared to share their music with anyone because they are afraid that no one will like it or think it’s good enough.
To me, there is nothing better than working with new people and coming up with new sounds for your song.
It’s also a great way to validate your work. If you know that other people are listening to your music, and it makes them happy, then you know you’re on the right track.
4. They don’t think of writing as an art
When you have written a song, whether you were sitting in a recording studio or you sat in your bedroom, it becomes an art form.
To me, the point of a song is to make people feel something. I don’t think of it as just something I wrote, but as something that is created, and that is something that only a few can do.
Whenever I write a song, I think of it as something that will live on long after I’m gone.
As far as songwriting goes, there are a few main ingredients that have to be in place to make a song successful.
There has to be a melody, a hook, and a message. What’s important is that the song needs to come from a place of emotion and a “why.”
If you write something and don’t have that “why,” it’s going to be an epic fail.
The reason that I wrote the song you heard just now is that I wanted people to feel what I was feeling.